Recently, I was given the pleasure of reviewing SOMA by Frictional Games (Developer/Publisher). SOMA takes you or Simon Jarrett (the main character) into both the depths of your mind and the sea as you dive into a dystopian future where you honestly don’t know where you are.
As I started playing SOMA I expected a standard horror game where you play hide and seek against enemies and traverse into newer locations to progress such as Outlast and Amnesia. While I did get that, I also got a story that was mind-blowing. It wasn’t something I expected going in.
SOMA‘s story has a goal in mind: to reach where this dystopian place finally becomes paradise. As we see in most games or movies with a futuristic storyline, the paradise our protagonists usually want isn’t reached. But in SOMA, you’re fighting through horrors of the deep to launch into space this probe called the Ark. The Ark contains the data of people’s minds copied within the machine to live in this beautiful paradise after the world as we know it has already ended. However, the Ark has to be launched by someone and half the crew’s minds and memories are now sitting in robots that aren’t capable of getting the job done due to injuries. Also, nobody knows where the Ark resides now and that half the crew is actually dead.
That’s where Simon and Catherine come in. Both enduring the last moments of the PATHOS-II terrariums to launch the Ark only to discover the secrets between the two and why Simon is here one hundred years ahead in the future.
The story gets an 8.
The graphics of SOMA are pretty good. The animations and facial detailing of the characters are great. The designs for some of the monsters that you encounter are also amazing: the Phantoms and the Proxies are great examples of this. The art style and color palette for SOMA really capture the horror and sea-based feeling that reminds you that you’re here alone, there’s no help coming, and that you’re trapped for however long you may be here. The ship wreckage and crashed submarines also play a big role in these graphics as well.
The graphics get a 7.5
The gameplay of SOMA is basic. You mainly walk around using an interaction button with certain notes, data buffers, puzzles to be solved, and the black boxes of the crew members final moments. However, the rest of the gameplay is spent either playing hide and seek against the monsters that plague the bases you visit or spent backtracking to find something you need to progress. It’s simple and it works for the most part.
Also, during my playthrough of SOMA, I happened to notice quite a few bugs and glitches involving the monster AI and some of these bugs me to reload my last save to continue. Another issue that I was having during my playthrough was the frame-rates dipping a lot, especially during the chase scenes.
The gameplay gets a 5.
One of the greatest things about SOMA is the audio. The storytelling in this game is phenomenal, the lore around the settings is engrossing, and the last messages from the previous crew about their fight for survival pulls you in as well. The consistent back and forth dialogue between Simon and Catherine is amazing. This is where the audio shines in this game. It plays into the aspect of wanting to hear someone… something…just about anything to remind you that you aren’t alone for even one fleeting moment. SOMA really captures this and it’s truly amazing.
The audio gets a 9.5
I’ve played quite a few horror games this generation. Some have blown me away with how interactive the enemies were, some have blown me away with how well the graphics and aesthetics were done and some kept me engaged with how crisp and well placed the audio was. But, SOMA takes a different approach in horror. It mainly tries to capture your imagination with broader storytelling, interesting dialogue, and the feeling of isolation. SOMA doesn’t try to attempt jumpscares or scary moments such as Outlast and doesn’t attempt a Cat & Mouse type ordeal like Alien: Isolation. SOMA simply attempts its own lane and it works.
However, SOMA also does have some issues with bugs and glitches that I’ve encountered, confusing story moments and really plain gameplay. But from the graphics, amazing audio and gripping story I can say that I truly enjoyed myself. If you’re looking for a horror game that takes a different and calmer edge. SOMA is that title. Don’t miss out.