I’ve been gaming a lot this week since I decided to take some time off to clear up some games I’ve had installed on my desktop and Steam Deck to make way for other games I’ve put on hold.
Subnautica is one of the games I put on hold. I was attracted to this franchise for the underwater theme. I love the ocean but I feel like I have thalassophobia. It started when I went tubing on a daily basis at my family’s cottage every summer. It took me a few years before to buck up the courage to give tubing a try because I was afraid of falling off.
When I finally did try it I loved it and always held on tight so I wouldn’t fall. I never bothered with water skiing or boogieboarding. But one summer when I was tubing, the cord snapped and I fell in. I swam to the surface and I was screaming for the boat to turn around and pick me up. It did in no time but it was that whole feeling of being engulfed in the unknown. The water was dark and there was no way to tell how deep it was or what was below me. Of course, it’s not like there were any sharks in that lake but when I can’t see what’s below me, I’m afraid something will pull me under, bite my leg, or I touch something unpleasant like slimy seaweed which is sensitive to me, living with ASD and all.
Since then, we got a new tube and it never happened again. On my first trip to the Caribbean, I didn’t feel comfortable snorkelling but a few years later I gave it a go in Punta Canna when I saw that the water wasn’t too deep and I could see the bottom. I took my chances and jumped in and loved it. The water was salty but crystal clear and I saw so many fish around me. But would I go out swimming, scuba-diving in water deeper than that, so deep that you can’t see what’s below you? Probably not.
So why would I play Subnautica now? Well, it’s a video game, it’s not like I’m actually in it swimming in the ocean to depths over a hundred meters, plus it’s an alien planet and once you get into it, the environment is beautiful! I love the reefs, most of the creatures, and the soundtrack too. My fears of open water subside as I dive under because at least there I know what is below me, like a reef here or a drop-off there where it gets deeper.
The game was gifted to me on Steam and I wasn’t sure when I wanted to pick it up until I had a gap in what I was currently playing. I will save my thoughts for a proper review but in short, for now, it puts you straight into the water, no tutorials or anything, you’re just expected to figure things out on your own. It’s the first open-world game I’ve played that stresses survival and crafting. Keep yourself nourished and build to adapt and survive basically.
Earlier this week I was playing and streamed it on my Discord server so my friends could watch. Two of them were veterans at the game and I came to an island with mountains to await a ship that would take me off the planet. Unfortunately, that ship was shot down by some alien AA weapon. At that time I was also working on building my base in an open area where the water was deeper.
As I got back into the water, I noticed that there was a deep trench right off the coast. It’s like you step into the water and just a meter away there’s a massive drop-off and I have no clue how deep it is. Down there, I could see some structures that didn’t look like wreckage from the Aurora, but I heard a sound, very ominous and eerie. It sounded like a roar, distant but loud like something was down there, something very dangerous. After hearing it, the sound stayed in my head for the rest of the day and I didn’t feel ready to explore the biome just yet.
Some of the creatures in Subnautica have been leaked to me before I have even seen them in the game and something tells me that deep roar was one of them. I had a dream last night that I was swimming in the ocean off the coast of a rocky island much like one in the game and heard that same sound. I thought about swimming to the surface and making my way back to the shore when I saw a long speck that I could have mistaken for an eel. Then it disappeared and I went about my business. But then minutes later, suddenly a huge monster charged towards me, grabbing my arms and legs with huge mandibles and roared again, louder and much more menacing. It must have been over fifty meters long with a gaping mouth that could swallow me whole.
I struggled and twisted one of its mandibles and swam away as fast as I could, but no matter how fast I swam, I could still hear it, my heart was racing, desperate to reach shallow water where I could lose it. But just as I felt like I was entering shallow water, the mandibles grabbed me again from behind. I screamed and everything was black afterward.
But since it was only a dream, I woke up afterward. I shouldn’t have swam out into the deeper water but I won’t be able to avoid that forever in the game. I think I know what it is that awaits me in that trench and the dream foreshadows it.