The Top 5 Most Realistic Underwater Survival Games

Deepwater exploration is rightfully frightening, reaching depths where sunlight can’t, in waters with crushing pressure, and sea creatures more alien than fish still yet to be discovered.

“Thalassophobia: The feelings of fear or panic for deep water. The 2023 Titan Disaster, where a submarine went missing on its 12,000ft descent to the Titanic, which later was found imploded with no survivors, has only spread the phobia of deep water like wildfire.”

The extent of survivalism in deep water is extraordinary, with its severe risks and highly technical operations needed, making it the perfect set of challenges for hardcore survival gamers to take a bat at from the safety of their homes.

But are all underwater survival games as goofy as their movie counterparts like the newly-released Meg 2 film? Or do we have survival games out there depicting the realities of deep-sea exploration? Let’s take a dive through our picks for the top 5 most realistic underwater survival games.

1. Subnautica

Diving into the Depths in Subnautica

Very few survival games have what it takes to be characterized by their settings. When you think of a forest survival game, you think Sons Of The Forest. The same is said about Subnautica, the quintessential underwater survival game that has captured the hearts of players worldwide.

Unlike the rest of the underwater survival games, Subnautica takes place on an alien platform, upping the ante with the creatures you find within the ocean’s dark depths. Since its release in 2018, Subnautica has continued to impress players, maintaining a remarkable 97% positive review rate on Steam at the time of writing.

One of the standout features of Subnautica is its submarine gameplay, allowing players to explore the vast, mysterious ocean in their customized submersibles. The game also offers an extensive base-building component, enabling players to construct sprawling underwater habitats that serve as their livelihood in this alien world.

Related: 15 Best Co-Op Horror Games to Play With Your Friends

What truly sets Subnautica apart is its massive open-world environment, brimming with biodiversity. From the serene beauty of kelp forests to the eerie glow of bio-luminescent rivers and the ominous heat of lava fields, the game’s attention to detail in creating these environments is unparalleled.

In Subnautica, players find themselves in a dire situation: having crashed their life pod into the alien ocean, they must gather food and water and develop essential equipment to facilitate their exploration. The game offers a plethora of crafting options, from diving gear and lights to habitat modules and submersibles, keeping players engaged in the struggle for survival.

Furthermore, Subnautica caters to those interested in scuba diving, marine biology, and submersibles, as the game masterfully incorporates elements from these fields, adding a layer of realism and educational value to the gameplay.

2. Death in the Water 2

Swimming Through the Waters in Death in the Water 2

Death in the Water 2 is a visual masterpiece among underwater survival games, boasting phenomenal graphics and lighting effects. The game’s intense atmosphere is heightened by its exceptional lighting, a crucial element that successfully captures the realities of fading light underwater.

In Death in the Water 2, players find themselves desperately seeking refuge by hiding in wrecks, evading relentless sea creatures on the hunt. The game showcases an array of unknown sea creatures, each possessing unique fighting abilities and a level of intelligence that contributes to the overall sense of danger.

Survival features in the game include the ability to unlock and upgrade weapons, scavenge for valuable treasures and items, and experience realistic behavior from sea creatures such as sharks. The game’s animations are especially satisfying, providing a visceral experience, such as shooting sharks with spears and witnessing realistic blood dispersion underwater.

Recognizable species of marine wildlife, including great whites, makos, blacktip reef sharks, sand tiger sharks, moray eels, and sea snakes, contribute to the game’s immersive environment. Death in the Water 2 is a testament to the power of visuals in enhancing the horror and realism of underwater survival gaming.

3. Beyond Blue

Swimming over Lava Flows in Beyond Blue

While not exclusively a survival game, Beyond Blue deserves mention due to its captivating portrayal of underwater environments and its educational focus. This narrative-driven simulation game places players as divers and scientists on an expedition to catalog sea life. The game’s atmospheric design, coupled with its smooth animations, makes scuba diving a delightful experience.

Beyond Blue meticulously captures the details of various sea creatures, offering players an opportunity to learn about marine life in a visually appealing way. However, it falls short regarding interactivity with these sea creatures, lacking the depth needed for a robust survival gaming experience.

The game’s storyline revolves around themes of environmentalism and ethics, creating a realistic insight into the life of a diver on a scientific expedition underwater. Beyond Blue is an excellent option for players seeking a more relaxed and educational underwater experience.

4. Surviving the Abyss

Looking at an Underwater Station in Surviving the Abyss

Developed by Rocket Flair Studios and published by Paradox Art, Surviving the Abyss is a relatively new addition to the underwater survival game scene, having been released just six months ago. Set in the 1950s, the game draws players into the setting where scientists establish an underwater base in the ocean, creating a unique gameplay experience reminiscent of the indie survival game’ Surviving Mars.

While categorized as an underwater survival game, Surviving the Abyss leans more towards a city-building simulation than traditional survival. Nonetheless, the survival of the underwater base remains crucial, and players must manage resources, ensure settlers have access to food, water, and power, and navigate the challenges of underwater living.

The game incorporates scientific concepts of underwater survival and living, making it stand out from the typical survival game. As the ocean darkens, the risk intensifies, with unknown creatures lurking and posing a threat to the base. Interactive decisions involving the crew and the base itself can hinder progress or drive advancement in base development.

Surviving the Abyss offers substantial content and an original take on underwater survival by merging simulator and base-building mechanics, creating an engaging and unique gameplay experience.

5. Barotrauma

Inside the Submarine in Barotrauma

Barotrauma presents a distinctive take on underwater survival gaming by introducing a 2D co-op submarine simulator set in space, filled with survival horror elements. The game thrives on crisis management, demanding players to work collaboratively to operate a submarine while navigating various realistic challenges.

In Barotrauma, players assume various roles within the submarine crew, including security personnel, medics, and engineers, each fulfilling a vital function. The level of realism is striking, with players responsible for tasks such as managing water pumps, extinguishing fires, and handling intricate engineering tasks that can significantly impact the submarine’s performance.

Players can gradually upgrade their vessels with armor and weapons, starting with basic submarines and expanding their capabilities for deeper explorations. The game’s mechanics require players to patch up holes and make repairs, simulating the intricate processes involved in underwater survival.

Barotrauma’s gameplay involves embarking on missions, with a designated captain overseeing all activities. The inclusion of deep-water diving adds an additional layer of complexity and challenge.

Furthermore, the game introduces a social deduction element reminiscent of Among Us, allowing players to assume the role of saboteurs who can damage other players’ submarines. Barotrauma offers a more technical and collaborative underwater survival experience, providing a unique alternative to traditional survival games.

Final thoughts

An enigmatic realm awaits you in the ocean’s depths, rightfully invoking fear and fascination. Sunlight cannot pierce these depths, crushing pressures prevail, and many alien-like sea creatures remain undiscovered. In these top 5 most realistic underwater survival games, hardcore survival gamers can embrace the wonders, mysteries, and challenges that await them beneath the surface.

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About Digital Ghost

Dg is the founder and co-owner of Corrosion Hour, a niche gaming community established in 2016 focusing on the survival game RUST. He is an active and contributing member of numerous other RUST communities. As a community leader and server owner for over 15 years, he spends much of his time researching and writing guides about survival games, covering topics such as server administration, game mechanics, and community growth.

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