The lead-in to Starfield's release date was filled with anticipation and excitement from those looking forward to see if Bethesda could pull off what they had been promising for so long: an engaging, seamless space-faring RPG.
And in many ways, they succeeded, with a massive player base at launch and favorable Starfield reviews across multiple outlets, including ours.
With all this anticipation, I knew I had to jump in and make my space piracy / inter-solar trucking dreams come true. And I was having a blast, upgrading my weapons and getting to know the different people across the populated colonies.
I was having so much fun being a fearless space adventurer that when I encountered some of the more disturbing moments, like discovering the Colander location in Starfield, it caught me totally off guard. This left me wondering: Is Starfield actually a horror game?
In the Starfield, No One Can Hear You Scream
The first Starfield horror moment I encountered was after flying to a nearby planet to gather supplies. I encountered a spacecraft adrift amongst the satellite debris.
I docked and decided to explore the abandoned vessel, only to discover a grisly scene: the entire crew had been murdered. Every room I walked through was strewn with dead bodies, their belongings littered throughout the craft, as forgotten and destroyed as their owners.
I got to looting, feeling even more like a lowly space pirate than usual. Usually when I looted corpses, it was because they fired first. This was the first time I was picking apart the remains of a conflict I had nothing to do with. I made my way to the bridge and picked up an audio recording from a dead crew member.
I started playing it and continued exploring, half-listening to the conversation between the captain and crew as they were trying to make sense of what was happening. Then, as I'm inspecting the bridge, I hear two things from the tape: screaming from the crew, and then echoing, maniacal laughter, followed by silence.
For a moment I couldn't tell if that laughter had been from the recording or if I had done something to trigger it aboard the ship. Was it possible what had murdered this crew was still onboard? I knew I didn't want to wait around to find out, and the fact I was experiencing this at 2:00 in the morning certainly didn't help.
For the first time in my playthrough, I felt actual fear, and I quickly made my way back to my ship to undock as quickly as possible. I found no other evidence of what actually happened to that vessel or who that horrifying laughter came from.
But it made me realize that the stars aren't just filled with cartoonish pirates and space marines, but things that are much more sinister.
Starfield Colander Ship: Easter Eggs and Horror Homages
Another Starfield horror moment players have had fun discovering is the Colander ship in the Schrodinger Star System.
If you don't want spoilers and wish to discover this ship for yourself, feel free to skip this section. For those who have played through or want to hear more, know that this adventure heavily leans into the isolation and bizarreness of space.
The spaceship that I entered earlier was mysterious and scary, but I was able to get out of it unscathed. If you board the Colander, however, you'll not only find the spaceship littered with dead bodies, but the creature responsible for all of these deaths still aboard the ship.
This whole adventure is a clear Alien easter egg and is a reminder that the threats found out in space aren't just the humanoid villains you battle throughout the story.
On this dark and desolate ship, you'll need to make your way through each room and unlock doors to uncover more of the mystery. And if you wish to reach the end and do battle with the creature itself? It can be an extremely high level, so make sure you bring plenty of firepower.
Beyond the Colander: Countless Stories To Be Told Amongst the Stars
Starfield is at its best when it's leaning heavily into the themes of its storytelling. Whether that's the relationships between your companions or the horrifying things awaiting you in deep space, Bethesda has done an impressive job of bringing together so many stories to help Starfield succeed as an endless RPG.
From abandoned spacecrafts to battling alien creatures to even seemingly mundane story-based choices that have a profound effect on the outcome of the game, Starfield preys on anxieties. You never know when a friendly hail on the radio will turn hostile, or if the ship you're exploring won't have something lurking inside that will mean you harm.
As time goes on, players will have more and more stories of the creepy and unsettling things they discover amongst the stars, and there seems to be an endless supply of updates and DLC opportunities moving forward that will create even more storytelling opportunities for the Bethesda team.
So, if you're playing Starfield alone at night and are already prone to jump scares, heed my warning: your relaxing cruise through the stars might just turn macabre very quickly.