Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Tear Jerker / Subnautica

Go To

All spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!

  • The game is dedicated to the families of Newtown, Connecticut, particularly those who were affected by the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.
  • The fates of the other Aurora survivors.
    • The former fate of Lifepod Crew 6, which was changed upon the launch of the game. A paranoid and distressed Aurora passenger takes the sole radiation suit from an Alterra crew member, but the passenger fails to do up the zipper and dies slowly of radiation; her crew member partner is left (correctly) guessing she won't make it much longer either — in other words, two people (likely) die a slow and agonizing death depending on how the Warpers treated the crew member. In earlier versions of the game, this gave a free radiation suit, but later versions deemed this was too much of a boon — the crew member now mentions that there's lead around the area for the player to craft a suit themselves, and instead the pair die quickly from an accidental flare explosion from the passenger; the player can find a couple of leftover flares.
    • The Chief Medical Officer, while being a quack who cheated on his exams, was actually decent at his job because the computers and robots did all the work for him. He was more or less a glorified technician, but the moment he gets separated from his machines, he's doomed. He bitterly complains that he is not qualified to treat his bleeding wound and especially not the alien virus he contracts.
    • Another survivor ends up in Reaper territory and manages to scrounge up enough materials to make decoys that he believes can distract the beasts long enough for him to get back to the Aurora, but he fears it won't be enough and that he will get eaten alive before he makes it. Again, he's right. Two others land in shark territory and get ripped apart. Another is killed by Warpers cutting into his lifepod before he can work up the courage to get out.
    • Finally, the Mongolian emissary who seems to get a good start. Unfortunately, his life pod's systems fail before he ever gets a chance to survive, which he correctly guesses, and he goes down praying for his creators to receive him at last. It really goes to show that PC's survival is just pure luck and determination.
  • The tale of the Degasi survivors, Paul Torgal, his son Bart Torgal, and their mercenary Marguerit Maida.
    • The three are the only survivors of the Degasi, and manage to not only find one of the only above sea-level land masses on the entire planet, but with Bart's educational implants, manage to create a stable resource of food and water for them to survive on. Then the planet's violent monsoon season starts and destroys their food supplies and threatens their lives, forcing them to take refuge deep underwater in spite of the dangers. To make matters worse, Bart then discovers they are infected with the planet's virus that is slowly killing them. Marguerit attempts to assist Bart in finding a cure, but her heavy-handed ways to finding aquatic specimens cause them to become unfit for experimentation, leading to the point where she brings a dying Reaper Leviathan back to Bart, only for its mate (or possibly another leviathan altogether) to come looking for it and destroy their base, killing Marguerit and Paul and leaving Bart as the sole survivor. From the trailer, it's revealed Bart created a second base in the shallows and spent an unknown amount of time in isolation, wracked with guilt over his hand in the deaths of his father and friend. He eventually abandons his own safe base to venture back to the island base as he knows he's close to dying from the virus, and makes one last sad voice log talking about how he'll soon be joining his lost companions in the ocean's ecosystem once he finally passes.
  • After her babies hatch and leave, the Sea Emperor slumps over, clearly exhausted from staying alive so long to watch over her brood, and her words make it clear that she's ready for death. You can come back to find her laying on the floor of her enclosure, barely clinging to life.
  • Once you build the Neptune Escape Rocket, if you've hatched a Cuddlefish, you have the opportunity to say farewell to it. It's heartbreaking leaving it behind.

    Subanutica: Below Zero 
  • The story of Al-An in Below Zero is a tragedy of errors he directly caused, enough so that he's only willing to fully explain things near the very end of the game, after he's been adventuring with Robin enough to build a good relationship. Al-An was one of the researchers brought to 4546b to research a cure for the Kharaa bacteria as it tore a path of destruction through the Architect's colonies - but, as we know from the previous game, none of them could communicate with the Sea Emperor and work out how to produce an enzyme potent enough to be a cure. With the clock ticking down to the Architect's possible extinction, Al-An made the desperate decision to ignore his network's safety directives, and took leviathan eggs from their hatching grounds to research how to hatch them manually... and that led to the Sea Dragon attacking the facility housing her eggs, which released the Kharaa bacteria onto the planet. Now, after hiding in the network for over 1000 years, Al-An re-emerges to the possibility that he might well be one of the last, if not the last, of his species alive in the universe, and that his efforts to save his people were all in vain.
  • The fact that Marguerit turns out to have survived the whole Degasi debacle means that, after getting the people she was hired to protect killed as a direct result of her actions, she suffers no consequences for it beyond having to live in the arctic. And then it turns out she did it again, encouraging Robin's sister Sam to take the most violent response to the Frozen Leviathan, leading to Sam's death. Again, Marguerit suffers no consequences for this - Robin won't even confront her over this if you go back to see her after you learn the truth.
  • On a smaller scale, Parvan's PDA logs reveal he has two children and didn't part ways on good terms with them. He expresses his regrets over how he didn't show his love for them, their family, and appreciate the life they had before, how he feels lonely in Sector Zero, and wishes to make amends and see his family again, but struggling to find the right words, he ends up not sending his message. Later, he dies alongside Sam, now his children are orphaned of their father, without ever hearing what he wanted to tell them.
  • Putting together Sam's story reveals that she was initially optimistic about working for Alterra, until she found out about the Kharaa experiments going on in the wake of the Frozen Leviathan's discovery. Her grave concerns were dismissed by her superiors, none of the coworkers she talked to were sympathetic, her complaints presumably led to her being "promoted" to a position at Outpost Zero, and the issue ended up destroying Sam's relationship with a fellow scientist. With no one else to turn to, Sam took to listening to Marguerit Maida, who favored a violent solution that ended up getting Sam and a hapless security guard killed. In short, she was a woman trying to do the right thing but was foiled at every turn, paid a heavy personal price for it, and the only ally she found gave her fatally bad advice.
  • Robin's decision to drop onto a dangerous alien planet without an extraction plan seems a bit suicidal, doesn't it? But her bio mentions that she grew up with a single mother, who had Sam over a decade before having Robin, and none of Sam's letters mention their mother, suggesting she's not around anymore. Robin's old company XenoWorx got bought out and compromised by Alterra, who she despises. And then her beloved older sister dies under suspicious circumstances that Alterra insists was "employee negligence." Maybe Robin wasn't planning on coming back from her mission. On the upside, this would mean that her relationship with AL-AN has given Robin a reason to live again.
  • True to the spirit of the first game's Sandy Hook dedication, the closing credits include those lost to Covid-19 in their In Memoriam, and offer essential workers and health care providers the game designers' Special Thanks.