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Nightmare Fuel / Subnautica

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"Father was right. We should never have left this place. We shouldn't have gone so deep. They do not want us down there."
Bart Torgal

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/untitled_840.png
C'mon in, the water's fine!note 
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Subnautica may have its share of peaceful creatures, but the oceans are never safe, and neither are your dreams. Chances are, you'll need a new dive suit after escaping these - assuming you do.


  • The Reaper Leviathan, providing the page image. A gigantic eel-shark-THING which resides near the Aurora wreck, and in the Dunes biome. The thing can outrun a Seamoth, and a PRAWN Suit, and can even use claw-like appendages ATTACHED TO ITS FACE to severely damage the two. Don't think you can escape it with a Seaglide either. It uses its claw-like appendages to swallow you whole for a One-Hit Kill. It can even kill Reefbacks, the second largest nonhostile creature in the game, and literally tear them to pieces. The worst part? It's not even the largest carnivore in the game! Then there's its roar. Before the Oculus update in April 2016, the Reaper's roar, and only its roar, had a special sound effect in which it sounded like it was coming from everywhere. Now, their roars fade with distance and is positional, which actually increases the fear factor, because when you hear one roaring up close, it may already be too late. Also due to this and the fact that it is one of the only things in the game with ZERO Bioluminescence, the gigantic Leviathan can sneak up on you very easily. The databank states that the Reaper's roar effectively functions as a sonar. If you can hear it, the Reaper can see you.
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  • The Inactive Lava Zone. Accessible by several pits and entrances in the game world, many which you need to get to through maze-like tunnels since these pits aren't directly accessible from the surface. So deep that both the Cyclops and the PRAWN Suit need depth upgrades just to get there, while the Seamoth can't access it at all. Once you are able to reach it... is a place that "cave system" is an inadequate name for. It goes deeper than 1500 meters, its "caves" are several hundred meters across, are mostly made of lava hardened into bizarre formations and have multiple running rivers of lava.
  • The Sand Shark. Nowhere close to the Reaper in size, but definitely no pushover. These creatures' signature ability is to burrow under the sand of the Grassy Plateaus. While they do leave a cloud of sand when they do, giving away their position, the thing will pop up and try to bite you with probably More Teeth than the Osmond Family.
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  • The kelp forests. Large collections of Creepvines that surround the safe shallows, if you go there the screen gets a dark green tint and your visibility lowers, this makes it difficult to see the Stalkers that inhabit the forests, the worst part is that these forests need to be visited a lot early on when the player is more vulnerable to the Stalkers.
  • Thought the Reapers were terrifying? Try the Sea Dragon Leviathan, another, even more malevolent creature, so dangerous that the developers decided to only add three to the map. It is much bigger than the Reaper and possesses an even greater unprovoked hostility. Commence pants-soiling. It was added in the Dangerous Creatures update, and spawns in the Inactive Lava Zone.
    • The roars, OH GOD THE ROARS!!!!!
    • Ever wonder what is like to be Eaten Alive by a giant monster in first person? The Sea Dragon kills you by doing just that.
    • It can even spit small flaming rocks AND a massive fireball at things. Joy.
    • Those "small flaming rocks"? Imagine a FIREBALL GATLING GUN, with each fireball AS BIG AS YOU ARE.
    • If you search around the Lava Zones, you can see the remains of Reaper Leviathans that they ate.
    • Even worse, the three Sea Dragons we encounter are revealed to act as a Big Bad Duumvirate of sorts, being responsible for spreading the Kharaa bacterium across the planet, and only the enzymes of the Sea Emperor Leviathan can cure it.
  • The Sea Emperor Leviathan. The thing has an uncanny resemblance to something straight out of Pacific Rim, and is just as big. It is the largest creature in the game, even larger than the Sea Dragon Leviathan. However, it's only a scare at first sight. It turns out it's trapped in an abandoned research facility, built by the Precursors It's completely harmless.
    • And now we know it's the Big Good which was kidnapped and forced to breed by the Precursors. The breeding didn't work. For a good reason, too, actually, that benefits both sides.
    • It turns out that the Sea Emperor is the Last of Its Kind. It, unlike the others of its species, had a mutated enzyme in its stomach that allowed it to survive the infection (see below) that killed the rest of them, and was being studied to see how to make more of the enzyme. Unfortunately, the infection got the researchers before they were even close to finishing. Makes you wonder what really makes the antagonists tick...
    • In the same laboratory area, you will discover a display case containing the dissected body of a juvenile Sea Emperor.
    • Even knowing it's the game's Big Good doesn't make it completely safe. As a new feature of the Silent Running update, the first time you encounter it is via a telepathic projection half an hour after trying to disable the Quarantine Enforcement Platform. When it shows up, all you can make out is a freakish smear of darkness in your vision occupied by a very alien face, and a voice that echoes in your mind asking "What are you?". It comes out of nowhere and can be very unsettling even for players who were testing early release, nevermind new players who will have no idea what is going on.
    • Then averted slightly and the creepiness comes back if you listen to some of the Sea Emperor's words: "they bored me" and "I give it to you willingly" concerning the Precursors and the cure. Because the Precursors couldn't understand her and, thus, didn't release her, she chose not to give them the cure to the disease and let the whole planet almost die. It's only because we are doing what she wants us to do that she is helping us - otherwise she would have just let us die like everyone else.
  • Crab Snakes are giant, sea snake-like creatures that are the only predators in the Jelly Shroom Caves. They are a slightly faint red and have a mouth that can only be described as a combination of a Xenomorph and a spider. They hide in the mushrooms and love to jump out of them and grab you, which is almost exactly like the aforementioned Reaper above, while you're exploring this cool new area.
  • Crashfish, suicide bomber fish that hide in sulfur plants growing in the caves. The fish themselves have a chilling chuckle that they make before they launch and the fact that they look like marine Cacodemons doesn't help. They're like murderous red pufferfish, and yes, they swim faster than you and will put a hole in your vessels. They can one - hit your seamoth submersible. The only other creature able to do that is the Reaper.
  • Ampeels are giant electric eels with spines that act as Tesla coils, not very threatening at first, as they are slow, and can easily be fled. However, if you are stupid enough to try and kill one then you'll realize that they are nigh impossible to kill.
  • The inside of the Aurora is almost completely broken, and the ship is infested with cave crawlers. Cave Crawlers are basically aquatic Head Crabs which makes it even worse that they have high numbers and love to hide in shallow water throughout the ship. In addition the ship itself is incredibly irradiated because of the reactors leaking. When you try to fix them, you'll find that the water in the reactor room, which you need to go into to fix the reactor and stop the radiation, is also infested with Bleeders which makes the underwater segments of the repair a mad dash to fix everything before the swarm catches up to you. Not to mention the Reaper Leviathans guarding the rear. The PDA will give you warning messages that it's unadvised to explore the wreckage. It will state that the structural integrity is unknown, that 87% of habitable areas were rendered uninhabitable during the crash, and that human remains have been detected in the nearby cave crawlers' digestive systems! Not to mention that the whole thing is shaking like it's about to collapse any second while you're entering its ruins.
  • Biters are basically salt water piranhas. They're small enough that its hard to tell what's attacking you and they come in swarms. They also at first seem like normal fish, potentially making their first attack on you a Jump Scare. Their cousins the Blighters do the same thing in the Blood Kelp areas.
  • Bleeders are alien leeches that clamp onto your arm with a screech, and suck out the nutrients in your blood. The worst part? Half of the water in the Aurora is infested with these parasites, including the flooded drive core room of the Aurora.
  • The Blood Kelp Biome is your classic deep sea horror show. The first thing you'll see are the blood kelp and blood root plants: pale, white seaweed/knotted roots with blood oil pustules oozing from them. Inhabiting this haunting reef are the equally haunting deep-sea relatives of regular creatures: Spinefish (skelet-like Hoopfish, thankfully harmless), Blood Crawlers (long-legged, bone white Cave Crawlers, with that sound like screaming ghouls), Blighters (zombie-resembling Biters that make rasping sounds), and the occasional regular but no less dangerous, Ampeel.
    • The ominous message your PDA gives you when entering this biome for the first time:
    PDA:This ecological biome matches 7 of the 9 preconditions for stimulating terror in humans.
    • Guess what, it was updated! How wonderful. Now there are TWO Blood Kelp Biomes around the map. The first, the one mentioned above, is relatively the same. The second one, however, has a couple of new friends in it. First of all, there are Ampeels everywhere making it hard to even move around. Secondly, one of the long awaited concept art creatures are finally here. Which one? Why the Crabsquid of course! And now it has an even more terrifying inhabitant: one of the adult Ghost Leviathans.
  • Speaking of the Crabsquid, its design alone could send some chills down your spine. Imagine a giant squid, now take away its tentacles and make the whole thing smaller. Now give it long dangly crab legs and claws. Now move both of the eyes the the front of its head and give it two more. Then encase the squids mantle in a bubble. Make it sound like an underwater MUTO and give it an EMP blast (which disables ALL electronics, including your submarine), make it so it's always hungry, and now you have a Crabsquid.
    • If you're an arachnophobe than the crabsquid is even scarier with it's big black eyes and long segmented legs.
  • Similar to the Blood Kelp Zone, Grand Reef is one of the other unnerving biomes above ground. The geographical layout is pretty vertigo inducing. If you enter it from the biomes neighboring it from the north-east, you'll be met with a steep drop. The upper part of the biome is vertically oriented with only some cliff shelves to support the bizzare glowing Anchor Pods, creating the feeling that it keeps going down forever. It doesn't help that it's a very murky biome even during daytime with only the dim illumination of the Anchor Pods and Membrane trees to light your way. Fauna is pretty sparse in Grand Reef with the lack of life adding to the creepiness. Aside from the occasional Spadefish, Reginald, or Sea Treader, the creatures you find are ones you don't want to find. There's patrolling Warpers in the upper recesses and Crabsquids lurking in the deepest parts, both very threatening to players even inside vehicles. To top it off, there are not one but two adult Ghost Leviathans living in this biome who can be very hard to see from a distance due to the murk and uneven landscape. All to make it more surprising for you when you run into one.
  • The Lost River contains a gigantic skeleton. Not only is it terrifying in and of itself, the skull is so massive it could swallow a Cyclops whole, dwarfing even the Emperor and Sea Dragon. The thought of something that gigantic swimming around is horrifying, even if it's long dead. According to the PDA what is shown isn't even the whole length of the creature. If the PDA is to be believed then the Gargantuan Leviathan clocks in at 1100 to 1300 meters (about .8 of a mile) long. For reference, that's about 1.5 Burj Khalifa's, the current record holder of the world's tallest building, stacked on top of the other.
    • It becomes more horrifying as it's been confirmed that not even the planet's sapient race know what it is. Answering that question was the secondary objective of their base in the Lost River before the Sea Dragon Leviathan destroyed it and caused a Class 1 Apocalypse How with The Plague for the planet's fauna.
    • The entire Lost River is a creepy place. The ambient light is a pale green, there are pools and rivers and lakes of acidic brine on the ground, one area is home to dozens of bones and skeletons if creatures that got lost in the caves and died, another has a very large and beautiful but forlorn tree with lots of Ghost Rays swimming around it, and the largest chamber has the fossilized kaiju skeleton. Plus the creatures that do live there are eerie translucent/glowing creatures that are more swimming skeletons and wraiths than animals, and now the Ghost Leviathan (two juveniles, at least) spawn in two of the chambers of the Lost River.
  • Eventually, some creatures will spawn with an "infection." What infection, you ask? It's unknown, but it is very similar to Kharaa from Natural Selection, coupled with the fact that the Bacterium first started spreading in the Ariadne Arm. Oh, and according to data logs native to the planet, it's killed 143 billion specimens thus far.
    • It's so severe to the point where the game's perceived antagonists, a sapient race known as the Precursors, were forced to prevent ships from leaving or entering the planet, shooting down passerby (including the Aurora and Degasi) as a result. They've also endorsed genocide of the planet's fauna to clear out the virus, employing the Warpers, AKA the Self-Warping Quarantine Enforcer Units, a species of humanoid teleporting creatures, to automate this. Once again, this plunges the Precursors deep into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory...
    • Oh, and the player has it. They have to find the cure before they can even hope to begin building the rocket that will let them get off the planet, since the door to the Ground-to-Air Weapon System's controls won't open to infected. You won't die from it, but it's a major roadblock.
    • The new infection details from the Infected update, specifically of the player's hands upon discovering their infection has worsened is particularly horrifying. It's both the high-detailed sickly glowing-green boils and the disturbing writhing hand-animations are what does it for the horror-factor.
    • Whats even worse is how the infected creatures look. Their covered in glowing cysts all across their body, which looks a bit odd on some creatures until you realize that it means they have cysts on their eyes and inside their mouths. Thats not even going into the fact that Reaper and Sea Dragon Leviathans can get it. The player gets this effect on them as well once they find out they have it.
  • The Mesmer species. Starfish Aliens that look like some kind of stalkless oceanic flower and float around the deep but bright Bulb zones and do some strange things to the player. They have mind control abilities, to be specific, and when in action they are terrifying. Your faithful PDA's usually comforting, if a little synthetic, voice will pipe up and begin telling you to look directly at the Mesmer while you find yourself drawn towards it, implying that the Mesmer somehow both knows what your PDA is and how to control it. How? Unknown.
    • It's possible the Mesmer only has basic hypnosis abilities, but much like how our brains 'fill in the gaps' for our vision, the player may hallucinate hearing their PDA directing them towards the creature.
    • The creature encyclopedia outright says it basically makes its prey ignore the fight or flight response, so yes, you're hallucinating the PDA voice.
    • Also it's worth pointing out that while under the Mesmer's effects, your vision becomes distorted as it commands your attention; and worse yet, as it makes it difficult to look away (your normal movement speed is rapidly reduced while mesmerized). It's an interesting effect on its own, but if you lose control in an area with hazardous creatures attacking you, or are hit by it while in a cave system with oxygen running out, the little Mesmer can become very deadly.
  • The Warpers are easily one of the creepiest creatures yet. They spawn around the Precursor bases and deeper Desagi bases, and if you get close they'll either melee attack you or fire a teleportation sphere that hurts you and sends you away a fair distance. NEXT TO THEM. And then they stab you for half health. They can warp you out of your vehicles with it, as well. If you try to attack them they'll teleport away from the area completely, then teleport back after a little bit. But the spookiest thing is that they will stalk and follow you as long as you're in the area.
    • Also there's the fact that They CAN'T BE KILLED.
    • They were designed to kill infected fauna, including you, with ease. Unfortunately for them, the game's fauna have had centuries to deal with them and they are last seen being eliminated by tons of infected aggressive creatures... all in your name. That's right, they're so genocidal that the planet's life evolved to see them as a common enemy after the species left after the outbreak previously evolved to counter the Kharaa.
    • With more recent updates, they make new sounds: an electronic noise as they warp in, and transmissions to each other as they hunt down the remaining Aurora survivors, which your radio intercepts. It doesn't take long before you are the only target not accounted for.
    "RADIO: Subject 11783 destroyed. Mode: patrol. New targets unaccounted for: 1."
    • After you enter the Lost River, you get another message over the radio. It's nothing but garbled static and the--untranslated--alien language.
    • Oh yeah, one minor detail: the Warper can summon backup. If you prove difficult to get, then they'll summon a predator from the area. So dodge too many warping orbs in, say, the Blood Kelp biome, and sooner or later, you'll have a swarm of hungry Blighters ready to tear into you, or a fully charged Ampeel all too willing to light up your world.
  • After a certain point the radio receiver will begin picking up An incoming signal from "The Sunbeam" a ship in the area responding to the SOS. Of course this kind of horror is two fold with the first being. The captain of the Sunbeam initially sending an annoyed message asking if the Aurora still needs assistance and openly stating that their owner company is well known for sending frivolous SOS signals. Even going so far as to imply that he won't actually come help without a reply when you have no way to send one. But it gets much worse when he detects the debris field from the Aurora being shot down and realizes how bad this could be. On the one hand he struggles to apologize for his insensitivity earlier but saying he didn't know (while in the background talking with someone about how they're a "six seater" that doesn't really have anything to handle this. On the other you still can't send out a signal and he's going to arrive in orbit in a weeks time, while you likely can't shut down the giant alien gun. Imagine the horror of knowing exactly whats going to happen and being unable to do anything about it. Subverted when you scramble to actually get the gun disabled before the Sunbeam arrives, the script marches on as the Sunbeam simply radios that they can´t find a suitable landing site with all the debris around, and will just leave and radio your position to the authorities.
  • The Ghost Leviathan happens to be at least a little more terrifying than its concept art. That's a first. Here's the model with the texture, and here's the concept art for comparison.
    • What's really scary is that the Ghost Leviathan isn't contained to the Lost River. The ones in the River are just youngsters, though still a little larger than the Reaper Leviathan. Turns out that the Giant Cove Tree is the location where the Ghost Leviathan lays its eggs, which are what the things in the Tree's branches are. As they grow they leave the Cove into the River system and from there they migrate into the world (there's an adult Ghost in the Grand Reef and one in the Northern Blood Kelp Forest, both by the Lost River entrances), and there's an adult planned for the Sea Treader's Path. And from there they go into the Crater Edge to reach their full size.
    • The worst part? The Ghost Leviathan is a filter feeder. It feeds on microscopic lifeforms in the Crater Edge. Meaning it doesn't attack you because it's hungry. It attacks you because it can.
    • Then comes its cries... If the Sea Dragon embodies "terror" with its animalistic roars, safe to say that the Ghost Leviathan is "horror" with its eerily human-like screams. The sounds for the Ghost Leviathan have been updated and it's even WORSE. Apparently according to the devs, it was created by using actual people screaming.
  • The Crater Edge itself qualifies. The PDA report on the area states that it can only support two kinds of life; microscopic plankton, and Leviathans. It's not wrong... the only life you will encounter out there are the aforementioned Ghost Leviathans (yes, plural), and they spawn with enough frequency that you're likely to be dealing with three at once if you make it any appreciable distance into the biome itself. Before any of them come for you, though, you're just greeted by miles and miles of open ocean, the absolute silence from the music abruptly cutting out, and a sheer drop that leads to depths which will crush your vehicles like eggs under a sledgehammer.
  • The music that plays when you get a fire on the Cyclops. The music is an intense EDM beat and the lighting in the sub turns red as sirens blare and warning signals pop up on the main hub possibly while your sub turns into a raging inferno, WHILE BEING ATTACKED! The music's title? "Abandon Ship". At least it's a catchy beat though.
  • Jacksepticeye refers to everything from the Lost River downwards as "The Deep Down Dark Deep Down" and, on some occasions, "Hell". Both are appropriate enough.
  • The Precursors Doomsday Device. Small enough for a person to hold in their hands, and packing enough destructive force to wipe out a solar system. The Precursors were determined to keep the infection from spreading.
  • Passing through the shallows over areas where the ocean is 500+ meters deep can be this as Nothing Is Scarier comes into play. Nothing is visible below the player's feet but inky depths full of who knows what.
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