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Surviving the Abyss – Beginner’s Guide

Surviving The Abyss is a deep dark city builder in the post-apocalyptic future. While some city builders have you building a beautiful utopia of happy citizens and clean energy, Surviving the Abyss is all about hardcore survival.

The game is set on Earth in 1976, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking at the game. Instead, the Cold War has forced you underwater to construct a deep-sea research facility. What are you doing down there? Perfecting human cloning.

The name of the game is in the title – Surviving The Abyss is all about keeping everyone alive against the odds. In this extremely unforgiving abyss, you’ll need to maintain oxygen, power, food, and more to keep your crew alive. Discover and mine resources for construction, light your way in the dark and expand into your surroundings to advance your research. But beware: the darkness hides unexpected horrors, with only the light keeping them at bay.

Disclaimer: Surviving The Abyss by Rocket Flair Studios and Paradox Interactive is out now on Early Access on PC. As such information in this guide is subject to changes and additions. We’ll be adding more to this guide as the game updates.


Your Main Objectives In Surviving The Abyss

Perfecting cloning is your main objective in Surviving The Abyss but to do this your science crew needs to stay alive. Life is tough as an overseer because unhappy scientists can eventually go in insane, disobey and start a mutiny. Not to mention that they can simply starve to death and run out of oxygen. You’ll need to keep them well tended to and make crucial decisions on their fate.

You’ll need to build and expand your research lab to ensure the survival of your crew. Make sure they have housing, food production, oxygen and power. As well as build other essential infrastructure for manufacturing, research and life support. All of these buildings can be connected with tunnels, including power lines that will run under your buildings. Secure these basics and you’ll then have the option for resource production, research, and eventually cloning.


Enable A Steady Stockpile Of Resources

Once you’ve completed the tutorial (I’d strongly advise this), take your time to focus on Building resource stockpiles. The reason for this is this is that you’ll want to have a buffer that will give you time to secure more resources if you’re running low.

To begin with, your resource production is based on finding small existing pockets around your base and mining them with mining ships. However, these have a finite number of resources and will quickly run out. Later we’ll talk more about establishing a more permanent way to produce resources.

There are several types of building resources in Surviving The Abyss and making sure you have enough of them is very important.

  • Steel – Used for making Buildings, Subs, and more.
  • Concrete – Used for making Buildings.
  • Quartz – Used for making Buildings.
  • Iron – Used for some Emergent Events, but it is mainly converted into Steel at an Alloy Furnace.
  • Aluminum – Used for advanced Buildings.
  • Copper – Used for advanced Buildings.
  • Lead – No function in the pre-release Early Access version of the game, but its presence suggests the addition of nuclear reactors in a future update.
  • Coal – Used to fuel early-game Power generators.
  • Oil – Used to fuel late-game Power generators. Must be refined in a complex operation requiring multiple Buildings.

Rush Research

Research is EXTREMELY important to increasing your ability to survive down in the abyss. Including as we mentioned above, establishing a more permanent way to produce resources. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you don’t have enough resources to go around.

The basic research lab is your only source of research data in the early game, and accumulating enough research data can make or break your ability to survive.

Be prepared to build more than just one basic research lab, as the amount of research data you will need to unlock tech from later tiers can become prohibitively expensive.


Don’t Start Cloning Straight Away

You may want to start Cloning right away, but avoid that temptation if possible — the Aquatic Life available in the Seagrass Dunes biome won’t produce Clones that will last longer than a few weeks. Every Crew death (even Clones!) will result in reductions to Crew Relations.

Crew Relation is essentially a morale meter. Failing to provide adequate resources, certain events, or the death of Crew Members can result in a negative impact. The death of any Crew Member — even if it’s a Clone — appears to incur a permanent Crew Relation penalty. Try to avoid Crew deaths at all costs or you may find yourself in an unwinnable situation.

If Crew Relation falls to 0%, you’ll lose the game.

The most consistent strategy I’ve found is to focus on being able to produce Generalist Clones that are free of Mutations (and thus won’t die after 60 days). It’s not easy, but it will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.


Focus On Air Quality

The crew need a couple of things to stay alive in Surviving The Abyss. This is how it’s identified:

  • Oxygen – How much breathable air is available. If you fall short, people can suffocate and die.
  • Power – Buildings won’t function without Power.
  • Air Quality – Some Buildings (such as the Alloy Furnace) will pollute the air and harm the health of your Crew.

Aside from providing the basics, Air Quality can do some serious damage in the long term if you’re not careful, it is one of the big recurrent issues you’re going to have to deal with in the game.

Air pollution can be alleviated by placing Buildings that improve Air Quality. Such as Oxygen Generators or Air Purifiers. You can reduce the impact somewhat by building the most heavily-polluting Buildings in a separate base with its own independent air systems. But for other areas, rather than attempting to isolate the problem by disconnecting parts of your base. Thus making everyone move around via docks, you can prioritise searching for aluminium, the material you need to build an Air Purifier.

Once you secure the necessary resources and research the relevant tech in the tech tree, build the Air Purifiers one at a time while paying attention to the air quality.


Produce A Mix Of Food

Food is an important resource in the game, and key to your colony – if you run out, your staff will not be happy with you and eventually starve.

There are two types of food – low and high quality. Low-quality food is more plentiful and produced by carbohydrate farms. It’s easier to produce a lot of low-quality food quickly, and at the beginning of the game, you’ll need to go down this route in order to satisfy your staff’s needs. But it does have a drawback – your staff, if they don’t have any high-quality food, will become malnourished and take a hit to their health.

High-quality food is produced on protein farms. These must be placed on top of a nearby habitat, but note that they will produce a lesser amount of food compared to the low-quality carbohydrate production.

Generally, you’ll want to mix in a few protein farms to your food production as you progress later into the game. This is to make sure you have enough food to satisfy your staff’s needs as well as make sure they have enough nourishment.


Manage Your Staff Carefully

The crew are divided into three types:

  • Generalist – A regular worker.
  • Scientist – A worker with special scientific training.
  • Engineer – A worker with special engineering training.

Each has their own important uses, but to begin with, you’ll only have generalists. Pretty much every building type requires them – they’ll be present in everything from coal generators to research labs and are the backbone of your settlement.

You’ll get access to Engineers relatively early in the game. They are generally put into buildings that produce or consume resources to make them more efficient. For example, power generators, although they’re not a requirement for the building to run.

Finally, scientists are used in most research buildings and increase the amount of research that you’ll get from these buildings drastically. That being said, they are harder to get a hold of, and it’ll generally be much later in the game when you’ve got advanced cloning before you’ll acquire any.

Careful management of your staff in Surviving The Abyss, for the various roles of your settlement, is crucial. It is rare that you’ll have enough resources to build all the buildings you want, that you’ll have enough staff to commit to every job, or enough power to go around to make sure every building is online. This management is extremely important and will be a large chunk of your micro in any of the runs you do.

You can unassign your staff from one building and put them in another or depower one building to make sure a more important one at that moment is powered.


Save Often

Finally, don’t forget to save your game. You’re going to want to make a hard save every 15-30 minutes in case you make a mistake that you want to fix without starting over.


Surviving The Abyss

Surviving The Abyss by Rocket Flair Studios and Paradox Interactive is out now on Early Access on PC.

For other games like this be sure to check out this list of upcoming city-builder games!