Space phobia, an aggressive pseudo-agoraphobic syndrome, is what correctly describes the fear of huge, open spaces, which agoraphobia is oftentimes mistaken to represent.
I’m lucky to say that this isn’t something I suffer from in real life, I’m actually only afraid of makeup and the economy, so I’ve been really interested in this weird feeling I sometimes get in certain video games spaces.
It’s this kind of quiet, bottomless feeling when you enter certain spaces. They’re usually either huge in scope or just very quiet. It’s kind of hard to describe, but maybe you’ve felt this in these spaces?
Back Alley, Zelda 64
There’s something so strange about the back alleys of Hyrule Castle Town in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Maybe it’s the stillness, the quietness in comparison to the relatively busy market nearby. Maybe it’s the strange, static backgrounds. But there’s definitely something disquieting about the space.
There’s also a fairly well-known event (I had no idea this happens) that occurs after Zelda disappears from the game where Link can speak to a dying soldier.
That’s creepy as hell! There’s just some dying solider in the alley near to the market and no one seems to know about him. Really strange stuff.
Starship Titanic is one of those weird games where you either really love it or you really hate it.
I, for one, having done a whole let’s play, absolutely adore the game; however, I rarely stray off the game’s intended path.
Why? Because it’s downright strange and creepy to think that this giant intergalactic cruise ship has like 50 floors and there’s no one around. That’s just so weird. It’s like an empty hallway. Chills. Ugh.
However, there are a few people around in the game except they’re all dead — either killed by being sucked aggressively through a tube or poisoned to death by a bowl of soup. As past Matthew alludes to, sometimes the game feels a bit more survival horror than adventure.
If the Zelda 64 back alley’s creepiness comes from a juxtaposition of a very busy place and a very quiet place, Starship Titanic’s creepiness comes from the total exclusion of anything — even fun at times because the game can be a little frustrating.
Encarta MindMaze is one of those you have to have grown up in the 90’s / early 2000’s to remember this kind of game, but you can also just download it right here.
In the game you go through a maze of the mind, answering questions from all kinds of weird people and animals about everything from different societal periods to astronomy.
Anyway, I always felt a little off when going through the maze simply because of its size. Every floor of the tower has a limited number of rooms, but there are a lot of rooms per floor. Like, how huge is this tower? Why are there so many people inside asking you questions? Do they live there? Are they prisoners?
This might not be the creepiest place in this list, but it’s up there to me. LGR also has a good video exploring the game.
Dr. Brain: Action Reaction
Waaaaaaay back in the day, my sibling and I played Dr. Brain: Action Reaction when I forayed into doing let’s plays. What we discovered were some weird secrets on how the game works and then a sense of dread as we entered the game’s secret, scary level.
Aside from the intentionally scary level, Dr. Brain also elicits that same emtpy, void-y kind of feeling that the other games on this list also create. The levels are huge and they’re filled with, on the whole, with yourself and a few machines.
Throughout the entire game, you interact with other characters pretty much solely through screens, so maybe that’s another reason why the game is so alien feeling. It’s like you spend your whole time interacting with everyone through a screen — totally not what life is like right now.
Anyway, I found replaying the game back in the day really interesting, but also disquieting. Huge, open levels in game are fun when they take place indoors not in an underwater sea base filled with lifeless goons trying to punch you.
There a lot more places like those in this list in video game spaces, but I think the most important thing is that creepiness shouldn’t be the goal of the space.
A lot of these places aren’t outright scary, they’re just made in such a way that leaves me feeling empty and hollow on the inside… like I’ll never be able to be happy again.
Anyway, do you know a space like this in a video game? Know a name to put to this creepy feeling? Leave a comment below!
And as a bonus, here’s a space in a video game that is the exact opposite and elicits only warm, fuzzy feelings.