the artistry and psychology of gaming


Undersea (Final Fantasy 7)

Undersea (Final Fantasy 7)

There is a world that I have visited in many different realities; their most catastrophic events happening simultaneously, yet completely unaware of one another.  Across the realities, things developed quite differently.  Some developed much more quickly than our own, whereas others developed much more slowly.  Others still developed so quickly that their advanced civilizations had nuked themselves back to the Iron Age and were now behind us technologically.  Today’s world comes from a reality that is technologically on par with our own.

Now, while they are on par with our own world, that does not mean that the technology is the same as ours.  For one thing, their primary fuel source sucks the life out of their planet far more literally than ours does, and they have enormous reactors with which to do so.  These reactors also create a solid byproduct, which, rather than being harmful to one’s health, gives its possessor enhanced capabilities, such as magic.  Also worth noting is that there is only one major city, which is the headquarters of the company that has a monopoly on this energy source.  The only thing that comes close is a much smaller seaside city, where I found a submarine.  I hopped in, drove it out into deeper waters, and dove.

Under the water, everything was very dark; the water itself must be capable of filtering out more light than in our world.  Beneath me was a turquoise ocean floor with a rocky texture, though the sandier areas were a pale green.  There were trenches beneath me, as well; neither could I see the bottom nor get very far down into them, for even the ocean floor’s pressure was too great for the submarine to withstand.  Some deep blue rock walls were visible in the distance, but one could not see very far; most of what I saw was eternal blackness.  The underwater world before me was both horrifying and beautiful; a place that one could easily become mentally lost for hours.

I drove around aimlessly for a while, making certain that my instruments were working correctly.  Once satisfied that they were, I turned them off and began navigating by intuition, deciding to turn them on again only if I had trouble finding my way back.  This would make it fairly easy for me to lose myself, but that was the point; I wanted to fully immerse myself in this environment.  I headed through a narrow passage between rock walls and into a new area.  This area had the pale sandy floor, as well as plateaus of the blue rock; perhaps this had been near an underwater volcano at some point or another.  In here, I also found a tunnel, which I traversed; at its dead end, I could see the surface of the water above me.  This was the only way to reach a cave nestled within the mountains, since the land there was too narrow to land an airship of any kind.

Heading back out the way that I’d come, I found myself in a new area.  In the distance, I could make out some deep blue rock pillars erupting from a trench.  Large bits of blue rock were scattered all about the sand beneath me.  I drove calmly over the trenches and found a long stretch of sand.  Here, there were grayish rocks strewn about, and soon their source became clear: there was a massive crater in their center, and the rock around its edge was the same color.  I stopped to wonder exactly what had happened here and how long ago, but came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to tell; perhaps it was a meteorite that had landed before this world’s oceans had even formed!

Moving on a bit further, I found a familiar element from another reality in this world: underwater vegetation resembling heads of lettuce.  Here, it seemed a bit less thick, but it was clearly a similar species, if not the very same.  Nestled within a patch of this vegetation was a very unnatural looking object, so I headed over to investigate.  Upon closer inspection, it became clear that this was a bright red submarine.  It seemed to have been attacked by another underwater vessel; the hull had large openings in it, and it had crashed on the ocean floor.  It had once been a vessel – an independent part of the human world – but was now merely a feature of the ocean floor.

Exploring some more, I located a gigantic reactor, used for sucking out the planet’s life force and using it as a source of fuel.  Despite its horrible nature, it was an aesthetically pleasing piece of architecture.  It was very dark blue with green trim, and had a pleasant cylindrical shape.  A few pipes and sensors stuck out from varying angles, and the very top had a bright light in its center.  I did not understand what each of the components’ functions were any more than I understand the intricacies of a nuclear reactor, but it was visually interesting, at the very least.

Moving along, I found a narrow passage between the rock walls; following it, I ended up in a cozy little alcove.  In here was another human relic that had become part of the ocean, though this one was intended for air travel.  Something had shot it out of the sky, though it was not clear what.  What did strike me as unusual was the fact that it was nestled almost perfectly against the rock wall, especially with the nose facing away from it.  One would think that it would likely have landed more out in the open; even had it crashed into the rock wall, it would have bounced off and landed a bit away from it.  It makes one wonder what manner of forces caused it to wind up there.  Convinced that I had explored the entirety of the ocean floor that was accessible to me, I resurfaced and headed back to the docks.

When one thinks of an underwater adventure, what typically comes to mind is a lush blue stretch with bright coral and colorful fish.  Personally, I love such seascapes and bright color in general, but I find the deep ocean to be far more immersive.  There’s something calming, eerie, and overall mystifying about floating through darkness for hours on end.  Feeling alone, embracing your fear, and drowning in the mystery before you are all part of what seems like a rare experience.  If you ever get the opportunity to embark on an undersea expedition, I highly recommend this type of journey; it’s not as pretty, but it is something unique that you will likely not experience any other way.

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