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Personnel unaccounted for: Non-Essential Systems Maintenance Chief Ryley Robinson

― Aurora, Aurora Black Box Data


Ryley Robinson is the protagonist of Subnautica. He is one of the survivors, and later the assumed sole survivor, that survived the impact of the Aurora by escaping aboard Lifepod 5.

Ryley does not serve as the protagonist in Subnautica's standalone expansion Subnautica: Below Zero[1], the role of protagonist being taken instead by Robin Ayou.


Ryley does not typically speak and appears to be taciturn; however, he displays kindness when playing with the Cuddlefish, able to play tricks with it and show it affection, as well as saying goodbye to it when the Neptune Escape Rocket is built. Ryley has also shown the ability to remain calm under pressure and in dangerous situations.


Nothing is known about Ryley's life before the crash of the Aurora; however, he was a member of the Alterra Corporation, as Non-Essential Systems Maintenance Chief, and was on board the Aurora prior to the crash.


Ryley is seen in a hurry, boarding and launching Lifepod 5 during Aurora's descent. After being knocked out by a loose panel, Ryley then proceeds to wake up hours later, (at which point the occupants of the other lifepods are already dead,) and put out a fire inside the lifepod using a Fire Extinguisher. Afterward, he activates his PDA, and the user is able to take full control of him. Upon exiting the lifepod, Ryley unknowingly becomes infected with the Kharaa bacterium.


After curing his Kharaa infection, receiving blueprints for and subsequently building an escape rocket from Alterra, and shutting down the Quarantine Enforcement Platform, Ryley finally manages to escape the planet. Upon returning to Alterra, he is informed that he will not be allowed to land until he settles his outstanding debt of 1 trillion credits. Accrued as, by Alterra law, all materials he used during his survival and escape were property of Alterra.

Ryley's status after the events of Subnautica and during the events of Subnautica: Below Zero remain unknown.

Data Bank Entries

Performing self-scan. Vital signs normal. Detecting trace amounts of foreign bacteria. Continuing to monitor.

Performing self-scan. Foreign bacteria count has reached statistically significant levels. No adverse effects detected. Be vigilant for symptoms.

Performing self-scan. The bacterial infection in your system has progressed. Detecting skin-irritation and immune system response. Further data required to identify bacterial strain.

Performing self-scan. Bacterial infection has spread to the skin and pulmonary system. It is imperative you find a way to neutralize the infection.

Performing self-scan. Vital signs normal. No remaining sign of bacterial infection.



  • Ryley's last name could be a reference to Robinson Crusoe or the Robinsons in The Swiss Family Robinson, who are famous fictional castaways.
  • His last name could also be a reference to the comic Lost In Space, where the main protagonists Robinson family is trapped on an alien planet.
  • During a conversation with Scott "Obraxis" MacDonald, he stated that Ryley "just likes hair gel".[2]
    • Furthermore, he has jokingly referred to Ryley as a janitor.[3]
      • This may be a reference to the Infocom text adventure "Planetfall" where the main character is pictured with a mop and bucket on the game cover. While not actually a janitor, the main character in Planetfall is a low ranking grunt, and thus is assigned to do all the "scut" work, such as cleaning the ship, when the game begins.
  • On Day 3, the PDA states"[...]. Data indicates that swimming was your favorite activity. Be sure to vary your routine for uniform muscle development" is more of a joke referring that swimming is the only activity during the first days in-game.
  • Through the entire game, Ryley never once speaks, only making sounds of pain when injured, or breathing.
    • A possible reason for him not speaking is that he suffered a head injury, as the PDA mentions: "You have suffered minor head trauma..."
      • But it’s more likely a design decision to immerse players with the character.
  • Ryley is referenced in Subnautica Below Zero in the song "Don't Hold Your Breath", where the lyrics reference his experiences in Subnautica.
  • After escaping from planet 4546B, Ryley is instructed to pay a balance of 1 trillion credits before he is given authority to land. This is due to the fact that he is expected to pay for everything that he has collected/built, as explained when he finds a diamond for the first time.
    • This may also be a Planetfall reference, as at the end of the game, the player is told that they are financially responsible for all resources used while planetside.
  • His job, non essential systems maintenance chief, is basically the supervisor of janitors, plumbers, and maintenance personnel that worked on non essential systems like exercise machines, vending machines, etc.