If the best way to overcome your fears is to face them head on, then playing underwater games should be an efficient way to help you get over the fear of the deeps, better known as Thalassophobia. Of course, it all depends on the game because plenty of them are terrifying regardless of whether or not you’re afraid of big bodies of water. Don’t worry, though, because this article is all about serene and relaxing underwater games. At least for the most part.
Before we get started it’s worth noting that we’re only looking at games where you spend most of your time in the actual water. That means titles like Bioshock or SOMA are immediately disqualified. Besides, we also want to avoid horror games as much as possible. We’re mainly interested in underwater games that can help cure Thalassophobia, not make it worse. With all that out of the way, let’s get started.
We’re kicking off this list with Abzu, a relaxing underwater game focused primarily on exploration. Abzu features breathtaking visuals paired with a beautiful soundtrack and is one of the most unique underwater games out there. It’s not just a game, in fact, but rather a surreal experience that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it. The environmental storytelling won’t be to everyone’s liking but as far as the exploration is concerned, few titles do it better than Abzu.
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.
Beyond Blue (2020)
Beyond Blue is essentially a David Attenborough documentary in video game format. The game is inspired by the award-winning BBC series Blue Planet II and manages to be both fun and educational at the same time. Beyond Blue has you playing as a deep-sea explorer tasked with using cutting-edge technologies to interact with marine life in new and exciting ways. The game is a bit on the short side but features excellent storytelling and voice acting so expect Beyond Blue to be a memorable experience from start to finish.
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mobile.
Song of the Deep (2016)
If you can’t handle underwater games that feel a bit too realistic you may enjoy something like Song of the Deep instead. Song of the Deep is a Metroidvania action-adventure game about a girl’s quest to find her missing father. Expect beautifully stylized graphics, a heartwarming narrative, interesting puzzles, and plenty of hidden treasures to find. This is another fairly short game that will probably only take you around 10 to 12 hours to complete. Possibly a bit more if you end up struggling with some of the puzzles.
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One.
Ecosystem is a god game about evolution. The gameplay mainly revolves around setting up underwater habitats, placing a few creatures there, and letting nature take its course. Ecosystem is powered by highly complex algorithms that realistically simulate creatures down to the genetic level. You can design your own creatures and make them as weird as you want or let them evolve on their own, which often leads to even weirder animals. Ecosystem doesn’t auto-generate anything so expect to see entirely different creatures every time you start a new game.
Available on: PC (Steam Early Access)
Feed & Grow: Fish (2016)
Speaking of Early Access underwater games, next up we have Feed & Grow: Fish. This underwater simulator throws you into a world inhabited by sea creatures of all shapes and sizes. It’s eat or be eaten in this world and you’re part of the food chain. To keep things interesting, you start off near the bottom and have to work your way up from there. The best part? It has multiplayer that works a bit like Beasts of Bermuda or a couple of the other titles found on our best dinosaur games list. The downside is that Feed & Grow: Fish suffers from a bunch of issues and hasn’t been updated in quite a while.
Available on: PC (Steam Early Access)
Ocean Rift (2017)
If you’re suffering from Thalassophobia you’ll probably have a difficult time playing this one. Ocean Rift is a VR aquatic safari park revolving almost entirely around exploration. There’s not a whole lot to do in the game besides sightseeing but that’s exactly why we wanted to add it to the list. Ocean Rift is an immersive casual game you can play at your own pace without having to worry about any complicated gameplay mechanics. Granted, the fact that it’s a VR-only title makes it less accessible than other underwater games. But if you do have a VR headset, you should definitely check it out.
Available on: VR
Alright, so this last one is a bit of a curveball. Subnautica can be absolute nightmare fuel for people with Thalassophobia, however, it can also be an extremely relaxing game that will make you fall in love with the ocean. It all depends on how deep you are willing to go. Most of Subnautica’s Leviathans are downright terrifying so it’s probably a good idea to stay away from them if you’re looking for a relaxing experience. Stick close to the starting area and you won’t run into particularly scary monsters. Probably.
Available on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, VR
Have we missed any good underwater games? Let us know in the comments and we’ll make sure to add them the next time we update the list.