Grounded’s Arachnophobia Mode Is Just As Bad As The Spiders

Here's the latest episode of "Ash is a big dumb baby".


Here’s a little fact for you: I hate spiders. While my phobia has eased somewhat in recent years, it’s still pretty bad, so much so that if there are big spiders in a first-person game, I’m usually the first to cut my losses and quit. Among my friend group, I’m the guy famous for quitting Skyrim because I ventured into a cave and got cornered by multiple Frostbite Spiders. Fighting them out in the open is one thing, but enclosed spaces? Nah, I’m out. Don’t ask me how I got past the intro either, I’m pretty sure I just closed my eyes and started swinging until the monster fell over.

It’s why Grounded didn’t appeal to me at first, with the reveal trailer ending on a shot of a giant spider. Well, a regular sized spider, considering you play as some shrunken down kids, but you get my point. That’s all I needed to mentally check out regarding the game, but then news dropped that Obsidian would be adding an arachnophobia mode to the game.

Immediately, the game piqued my interest once again. Sure, the survival genre isn’t one of my go-to genres when looking for something to play, but at the very least, it’s on Game Pass, so it’s not like I’d be losing money to give the game a try. Unfortunately, now that the game has launched and I’ve seen what the arachnophobia mode entails, I’m fine with never playing Grounded.

The arachnophobia slider is listed under the accessibility options, and sees players adjust the size and shapes of the game’s spiders to better alleviate their fears. Obviously, leaving the slider at 0 shows spiders as normal, but as the slider moves up, they begin to lose their textures and limbs before turning into a floating blob with beady red eyes.

While the eyes are arguably a little bit discomforting, the floating blobs are certainly a world apart from the default spiders, but that’s my issue. Grounded’s world is clearly a fantastical one, but one that’s, well, grounded in reality, and last time I checked, floating orbs only seem to exist in bad Discovery Channel documentaries about someone’s alleged encounter with an alien abduction.

By all accounts, the spider presence in Grounded presents some genuine terror for players, so naturally I’d only be able to play the game with the arachnophobia mode on, but doing so would break Grounded’s immersion, which would hamper my enjoyment immensely. I wouldn’t be able to shake the feeling that I’m somehow playing a lesser version of what the developer’s intended, despite the developers giving that option in the first place. It’s a bit of a paradoxical argument, I know, but it’s how I feel.

Arachnophobia modes are a relatively new idea for games, with the most notable example in the past being Satisfactory, though that opted for a more direct option. Instead of removing or altering the spiders, the game adds a giant sticker of a glitched cat over the spider, which again could be seen as immersion breaking. Still, it’s at least funnier and cuter than Grounded’s offering.

Perhaps the best way games have been altered to cater to arachnophobes comes from, to come full circle, Skyrim, specifically the game’s modding community. The No Spiders/Insects Begone mods turned the game’s Frostbite Spiders into bears, and while the bears look like they’re about to start dancing on their hind legs, they also exist naturally within the game’s world. It’s a more elegant solution as far as I’m concerned, but then that presents the problem that using mods blocks achievements. Without a doubt, that would become a lesser version of the intended game.

I don’t know, this is a bit of a ramble, and it could just be me being weird. Anyone who’s stuck around here long enough would know that’s a very real possibility. Arachnophobia modes like the one Grounded offers are certainly a step in the right direction for players with a massive fear of the eight-legged creatures, and I’m glad it’s there. I would never want to discourage the implementation of modes like it in other games.

The fact it exists as a slider rather than an on/off switch could also help players ease themselves out of their arachnophobia, which is also a great way of using video games as a power for good. However, it’s just not for me. Maybe that’s just me being a bit too unwilling to face my fears head-on, but I’d rather not have to deal with the reminder that I’m a big baby who doesn’t like some creepy-crawlies.

Have you been using the arachnophobia mode in Grounded? How does it work for you? Sound off in the comments.

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