Content of the article: "The game unearthed the greatest fear I didn’t know I had"
So I've been playing Subnautica for a while now. Actually, it's been a year or so since I last played it.
When I just started playing, the game was in a pretty early state compared to now. It was definitely before the Aurora became accessible. So when I just started playing, I felt pretty comfortable. Gathered resources, messed around, etc. I eventually built a seamoth and decided to go explore in some direction. I eventually swam into the mushroom forest biome.
I didn't anticipate just how uncomfortable this game gets. It was dark, and the worst thing, to me, was that there was just so much open water and blank sand dunes everywhere. Before the H2O update, water looked, to me, a lot less friendly, somehow. It had some sort of blankness to it that made me really uncomfortable. Anyway, when I got there, I just immediately quit. I couldn't touch the game for a while. Eventually, I settled on messing around in the more shallow areas.
When the Aurora update came out, I couldn't hold back from checking it out. Now I saw on Trello how they added the Reaper, ol' Sammy boy, but I couldn't possibly anticipate how much it'd scare me. It grabbed my seamoth, having snuck up from behind in the murky waters of the crash zone, and I just screamed and closed the game as quickly as I could.
The reaper is terrifying. In the seamoth, you start to feel much safer. You're not floating in open water. You're safe inside, for the most part, from all the openness and emptiness. The reaper can force you down, down way past your comfort zone, and chew your safety bubble up. There you are, in the middle of dark water in all directions, with nothing to stand on.
Another moment that disturbed me a lot was when the sparse reef was added. I liked the sparse reef from the very beginning, so I decided to check it out immediately by using the console. Unfortunately, the TP point was set suspended a well above ground. When I saw the bottomless murky green water, I just panicked. Frankly, almost as much as when I saw the Reaper. Seriously. I just closed the game and sat there, shaken.
Since then, a lot has happened to the game that actually made it a lot less scary to me. There's almost no areas of nothingness now. The water looks somehow much more welcoming, like I'm actually meant to be in it. I find the biomes meant to be scary to be quite fun, if anything. They have plenty of flora and fauna that keeps the place feeling like somewhere I'm meant to go. The lost river is not scary at all, to me, and the blood kelp zone is one of my favourite places because I love its deep-sea style, with all the bioluminiscence and whatnot. The new leviathans have completely failed to scare me.
I've beaten the game twice now, once alone and once with a friend, both times without substantial scares. In fact, I found it to be a tad too timid, playing first on filmic and then with a mod that darkened the game a whole lot more.
But I keep having nightmares about it. I've been having them for a couple years now. Dreams about being underwater somewhere, all kinds of places, new biomes, huge ones. Lots of beautiful things, but I always feel terror when I'm in water in those dreams. It's the feeling of being somewhere deeply wrong, some kind of desolate, empty void. Like when you go OOB in some games, and you just end up in this cursed void that's unlike anything. When I think about it, it feels like it's happened before with similar results, but I can't remember when at all.
The worst would be for it to have nothing at all. No apparent bottom, no plants or animals, no bubbles or sounds. Just murky water, everywhere. Just typing this made me intensely anxious, much more than any horror game or movie has in a long time.
I feel like this game accidentally uncovered some kind of extreme primordial phobia in me, and I just can't get over it apparently, since I keep having these dreams. I don't really seek any specific goal in sharing this. I just want to vent, because I feel like here, of all places, I might hear a few words from somebody who relates. Cheers.
- Below Zero Making the Case for Murkiness X-Post from the Official Forums
- I’ve beaten Subnautica Spoilers
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