This is video game review 2 and is a part of Halloween Week🎃
SOMA is a first person horror game created by Frictional games and released September of 2015. Known for other horror titles such as Amnesia and the Penumbra series. Both Amnesia and Penumbra were excellent experiences that left me wanting more. The big question is, did SOMA meet expectations, or fall a little flat?
SOMA’s story is not immediately straight-forward. You play as a man named Simon Jarrett. At the start of the game Simon is going in for a brain scan, as he received a brain injury from a car accident. This scan is part of an experimental trail that he hopes will help him get better. Everything seems to be going fine with the scan, when suddenly, he wakes in an unfamiliar setting.
Eventually, Simon learns that he is in an underwater facility. With the help of Catherine they must evade their pursuers and attempt to find the ARK. The ARK may be humanity’s last hope in this bleak and unsettling future.
This is really all you need to get going in SOMA. In order to avoid spoilers, I’m going to leave it at that for a synapsis. You really should go in as blind as possible with this one, trust me. The story takes about 8-10 hours to complete. It explores several interesting themes such as; identity, morality, and free will. I found the story to be a deep and thought provoking experience.
The gameplay is standard for a Frictional title. Though, comparatively things felt a lot cleaner and tighter than both Amnesia and Penumbra. This is a good thing because it still allows for all the fun I remember with the object interaction, while keeping the actual gameplay simple.
The only actual mechanics that the game utilizes for the actual game is some puzzles (most of which are not very hard at all) and hiding from enemies. The puzzles were a bit of a let down compared to Frictiona’s previous works. However, since this game puts a greater emphasis on story, this isn’t really going to be a big deal for most players.
The monsters, alternatively, were on point. The designers were clever in making sure that the monsters stayed scary, and that you didn’t see them too often. This is key to making an excellent horror experience and in this way the game delivers. The monsters distort and blur your vision if you look at them, as well as increasing the likelihood that they will spot you. From a design standpoint, this helps keep the monsters scary even in the sections where you have to worry about them for longer periods of time.
Graphics & Sound Design
As far as graphics go, I thought the game looked pretty good. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a higher end machine, the game is probably going to run with lag if you don’t lower some of the settings. To get an idea of what I mean check out the trailer:
As for the sound, the game never had any music or effects that seemed out of place. This aided in the building of tension as well as, indicating when an area was (mostly) safe. There is a possibility that this will bother some people, however, I don’t think this will be a big deal for most.
Closing Thoughts & Where To Buy
Atmospherically the game really delivered. The game never got too scary that I felt I had to quit, and as a result, was completed in only 2 marathon sittings. The game kept me engaged the whole way through and was a fun experience. I felt like I received a great horror experience (something many video games fail at) in addition to a story that left me thinking (in the best way too).
SOMA felt a lot deeper than some of Frictional Game’s other titles, with a more believable story and tighter controls. I’d recommend this game to any horror fan, or even just to someone who wants a game that’ll leave them thinking. If you are looking for a spooky game this Halloween, then consider giving this one a shot. You can purchase this game for PS4 or PC on Steam. The price on Steam is $29.99 and is well worth it.
If you enjoy this game, then I recommend giving Frictional Games’s other titles a try. They play very similarly to this game and offer a great horror experience that is sure to get your heart pumping.
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