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BioShock meets Lovecraft in undersea city builder Surviving the Abyss

Undersea city builder Surviving the Abyss pits your Cold War facility against eldritch horrors in a BioShock meets Lovecraft game coming to Steam Early Access

Surviving the Abyss - a tall lantern illuminates an underwater network of buildings and tunnels amidst the gloom, as various creatures swim around outside

If you’ve ever played BioShock, you’ll know just how wrong building an underwater city can go. Now, underwater city builder Surviving the Abyss asks what you would do differently in a Paradox base-building survival game tinged with Lovecraftian horror. The year is 1976, and you’ve been tasked with building a deep sea Cold War research facility attempting to experiment with new ways to weaponize genetics. As with the best city-building games, you’ll be exploring your surroundings for resources to help extend your base and further your research – but who knows what untold, eldritch horrors await in the darkness?

Surviving the Abyss is the latest title to join the Paradox Arc publishing lineup, which sees the developer of Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, and the recently released Victoria 3 aiming to bring attention to the best indie strategy games on the market. This debut title from the Belfast-based Rocket Flair Studios already looks equal parts exciting and terrifying, with a new trailer unveiling the game’s arrival on Steam Early Access in January showcasing some of the structures you’ll craft, as well as a few glimpses of the terror that awaits in the depths.

As the facility’s overseer, it’s your job to keep your city’s population “sane, obedient, and alive” as they help to build out your facility, search for resources, and conduct genetic experiments on local ocean wildlife. You’ll have to keep track of all the essential infrastructure such as power, manufacturing, research, and life support, as well as researching more advanced technologies to help improve both your research speed and your team’s quality of life.

Building out an underwater base is no mean feat – you’ll have to contend with the uneven terrain of the ocean floor, implementing careful planning and vertical structures to navigate the environment. You’ll also be able to build light pylons to help push out your visible territory, though you’ll have to scout out with submarines and construct long-distance outposts in order to maximise your resource collection abilities.

The trailer gives just the briefest glimpse of what might be lurking in the waters beyond your base, but it’s more than enough to set off those fear sensors. The momentary sight of a dozen long, winding tendrils – each ending with what looks like grasping hands – is enough to send shivers down the spine. As the game’s description elegantly puts it: “Your crew senses it, and so do you. Something is lurking at the edge of darkness, slithering and seething. Do not turn off the light.”

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Surviving the Abyss releases on Steam Early Access on Jan 17, 2023. You can wishlist it now on Steam if you want to keep up to date.

If you’d rather stick to dry land for now, we took a look at the Early Access release of dark fantasy city builder Against the Storm. If you’re interested in more from Paradox, our Victoria 3 review digs into the highs and lows of its latest Victorian-era grand strategy game. Meanwhile, another of Paradox Arc’s indie games is available right now, thanks to the launch of Stardeus on Steam Early Access in October.