A deep body of water can be both fascinating and terrifying, especially as depth grows higher. At some point, water becomes void of light, requiring bravery, strong lungs, an advanced bodysuit, and expensive, heavy equipment to explore. Luckily, none of those requirements apply to video games. This is ideal for gamers who are bored by regular swimming pools and want to witness marine wildlife, experience the thrill and dread of hunting and spend time in a virtual submarine. For that reason, we’re ecstatic to make their wish come true in our rundown of the best underwater games for PC.
Subnautica topped our list of best underwater PC games as a single-player sub-aquatic experience that combines genres such as monster, crafting, survival, VR, mystery, building, and horror. In it, you’re stranded on an alien planet, stuck in a Life Pod with no memory of prior events. Your goal is to remain alive while seeking food, drinkable water, and the equipment to eventually start building and modifying bases on the seafloor. Simultaneously, you’re working on upgrading your nano suit, which will allow you to venture deeper and further and discover new ecosystems, biomes, caves, and marine life creatures.
Playing SOMA won’t be blissful, even though it’s among the greatest underwater PC games. This sci-fi, survival, horror game follows an underwater facility, PATHOS-II, which has nearly run out of food. Its omnipresent Artificial Intelligence rebelled too, and it’s now fighting people it was designed to help. You must restore the status quo by exploring and completing tasks while the AI throws curveballs in your path. Additionally, you must stay away from monsters, insane robots, and humans who switched sides. Your survival depends on it; fighting back was intentionally left out.
When composing the list of the quickest games for PC, we put ABZÛ near the top for only taking 2 hours from start to finish. And while still possible, it’s not necessary. You are free to spend hours upon hours looking at kelp waving around or hundred schools of fish around you. You’ll also enjoy the realistic fluid acrobatics, and a deeper mystery to your presence below the surface, at the “heart of the ocean” as the creators put it. Like SOMA, there are scary elements that stop you from relaxing. As expected, the ocean is filled to the brim with predators and some see you as prey.
BioShock is undoubtedly among the top underwater games for PC. Featuring protagonist Jack Wynand, the illegitimate son of Andrew Ryan, the primary antagonist, and the large, hidden underwater city of Rapture already sounds like an intriguing premise. And it truly is – the storyline is, as expected, one of the most immersive and thrilling things the game offers. Plus, this first-person shooter game has a horror element. BioShock also features super-human powers such as pyrokinesis and telekinesis, thanks to a substance, ADAM, extracted from sea slugs living on the ocean floor.
5. Beyond Blue
Beyond Blue is a single-player subaqueous simulation game set in the imminent future. You play as Mirai, a scientist whose goal is to interact with the ocean and its residents via the newest technological advancements. Unlike nearly all games on our list, Beyond Blue provides a completely casual experience. You can listen to narrators known from YouTube or TV, or an immersive, calming soundtrack. Finally, the game features 16 optional mini-documentaries with real-life sea experts. It also allows you to edit screenshots via Photo Mode, with features akin to Instagram’s.
Song of the Deep is an adventure game that comes from the creators of Ratchet & Clank. It has a familiar Metroidvania style but features a non-linear background. You’ll play as Merryn, a girl on a quest to find her missing father, and on the way, collect up to 200 different treasures. Also, as you unlock new areas, which include lost civilizations and ruins, you must continuously upgrade your submarine by equipping 30+ upgrades and 15+ abilities. And you better do! To gain safe passage, you must battle and beat creatures of varying intelligence, strength, and size.
Fan of history and the military? Even if you aren’t, this game will make you an expert on submarines from the World War II era. UBOAT is a full-fledged single-player submarine simulator with a sandbox and time, crew, and resource management elements. Your goal? Keep the submarine running at all costs. Upgrade the equipment, perform repairs, disable unnecessary devices, and oversee the crew’s physical and mental health and basic needs. It’s so precise that ordering sailors to stay in the room saves oxygen. Also, playing card games or music from the radio boosts their morale.
If you ever wondered how a deepsea predator feels and acts, Maneater has the answer. It’s the newest sub-aquatic game on the list, and uniquely, lets you play as a shark. You start small but as you hunt and consume humans and wildlife, you grow, gain new powers, and improve your armor. There’s a narrative-driven campaign that is narrated by Chris Parnell, and its tone and writing make this open-world RPG simulate a reality TV show. Speaking of the world, it features 7 massive regions, active marine life, and a day/night cycle.
It’s no surprise that Depth Hunter 2: Deep Dive, a single-player aquatic adventure, focuses on deep-diving and hunting underwater marine life. To be fair, you can only do the former and spend time staring in awe. The game has 25 missions spread across 3 massive locations and the number of fish species that’s too great to count. Plus, you’re limited by the ability to hold your breath and the precision of your spear. Did we mention you’ll rely on spearfishing? It’s an ancient hunting method that’s a sport or source of food or livelihood for people across the globe.
With Ecosystem, you can play a sub-aquatic God. The game lets you determine the biome, its plants, nutrients, and fish from scratch. For example, you can define how fish look, think, behave, and which species they belong to. Also, you determine their position in the food chain, and whether their genetics can produce offspring. The game even lets you make the synthetic DNA take its course, so that it mutates, gets combined, or spliced with other species. The game developers even implemented laws of “fishics” that define the way fish body shape affects swimming style and speed.
11. Ace of Seafood
Ace of Seafood is perhaps the most hectic of the underwater PC games here. It’s akin to Fight Club; after customizing your character as a fish or a crab, you begin your ocean dominance journey. Start gathering an army of allies to defeat the underwater enemies. As you secure more coral reefs, the territory under your control expands. Your subjects obey your every command, meaning you can come up with battle formations. Plus, up to 5 friends can join you via the Internet if you wish. Finally, to avoid getting freaked out, know that all forms of marine life can shoot lasers.
12. Ocean Rift
Ocean Rift’s official tagline, “the world’s first VR aquatic safari park” describes the game perfectly. After connecting a compatible Virtual Reality headset, you’re ready to drop to the bottom in a cage, at first. The fun begins when you leave its confinement since you can dive and swim freely, and explore every minute detail of various marine biomes. You decide the mode of travel too; among three, our favorite was making gestures with your VR controller. We’ll let you discover how far the diversity of marine life goes, but expect dolphins, sharks, and seahorses.
The game developer (one guy!) described Koral as the “love letter to the ocean” which it truly is. The ambiance, the graphics, the vibrance and diversity of colors, and the marine wildlife is outstanding. It reminds us of ABZÛ, but it’s not a short game, mainly because solving puzzles as you explore the gorgeous world beneath the surface takes time. The work isn’t in vain, luckily, since you’ll revive dying coral reefs as a reward. The activity is meant to raise awareness of the current situation worldwide. The game’s goal is to make humankind realize the urgency of rebuilding Earth’s bodies of water.
Feed and Grow: Fish is similar to Maneater, albeit not as advanced. You begin as a small fish named Bibos. But as you continue to chase, kill, and eat other fish, you grow bigger and stronger and transform into an apex predator everyone fears. The subaqueous world is vibrant, but game developers weren’t afraid to make the water murky when the biome demands it. The game is limited to single-player at this time. However, the game publishers announce plans for a multi-player version at some point, once they test new fish species, abilities, mods, and scenarios.
Barotrauma is a 2D platformer game that mixes survival, horror, sci-fi, time management, and mission genres. It’s also a single-player/co-op/multiplayer game for between 2 and 16 players or bots. It deals with the daily grind of running a submerged submarine and its complex life-support systems, giving you control over its destiny. After all, the game’s tagline is “Help your crew succeed, or make sure no one does!” Speaking of crew, there are 6 different player classes. Plus, the map is generated procedurally, and there’s danger from a wide array of sea monsters.
FarSky is one of the shortest underwater games for PC, albeit slightly longer than ABZÛ. It puts you in control of Nathan, whose submarine crashed in the ocean. He must gather resources, weapons, and equipment and start crafting to either create a base or head off into an unknown, hunting to feed himself. The map is generated randomly, too. This ensures replayability even after completing the end goal, which is to rebuild the submarine and reach the surface. Additionally, FarSky has a sandbox mode, allowing you to explore and build without pressure.
17. In Other Waters
Playing In Other Waters felt like mediation to us. The game follows a xenobiologist, Ellery, who arrives at an alien planet, Gliese 677Cc, in search of her missing partner. What she finds instead is an abandoned base and ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. With a partially broken diving suit and an Artificial Intelligence (you) to help keep her safe and guide her, she embarks on her search. On the way, she must explore the world, but also catalog and study creatures, and unlock mysteries that lie deep underneath the surface.
Silent Hunter III was released by Ubisoft in 2005, which means graphics are no longer impressive. However, the love put into it still shines through. Time also didn’t ruin the immersion of the historically accurate ships, aircraft, and submarines, U-BOATs, and naval weapons from World War II. The campaign is non-linear, so the success of your decisions as a commander of a submarine, and skills at managing its crew directly affect the storyline. Also, although it remains a single-player game officially, later updates made it possible for 8 players to play together over LAN.
AquaNox is even older than Silent Hunter III; it was released in 2001. Thankfully, this doesn’t hurt this pirate-influenced gem among the underwater PC games except in the graphic department. It has a compelling story set in the 27th century that follows Dead Eye Flint. He’s the head of a group of mercenaries that unsurprisingly don’t trust each other. Your goal is to whip them into shape, inspire loyalty, and organize efforts against the current leaders of the new world and over 40 ruthless monsters that inhabit it. Additionally, there are 34 missions to complete, which alone equals hours of fun.
20. Abyss of Neptune
Abyss of Neptune combines deepwater exploration, survival, horror, and puzzle-solving to uncover the Bermuda Triangle mystery. The premise is that a government organization named D.I.V.E.S sent you to investigate the unknown signal at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, after April 2021 release, constructive criticism brought the ratings down. That’s mainly due to the lack-luster crafting system and lack of content and creature model diversity. Seeing as how the game is intentionally short and barely had time for updates, its state will improve eventually.