23 September 2015

Overview

 I'm not sure where to begin on this one. SOMA is the single greatest game released this year, hands down. I could not find one single flaw in it no matter how intensely I scrutinized it - this is a rare case of a game so amazing that it may very well redefine the genre. Frictional Games has made a game that somehow surpasses the beauty of The Dark Descent. I've been anticipating SOMA since it was announced and it has surpassed every expectation I had for it.

 Before SOMA came along, I wasn't sure if there was really anything new to be contributed to the genre of Sci-Fi horror, and SOMA has done a great job of telling me that, yes, great games can still be made in this setting, and that's exciting news.

Whether or not you've played Frictional's previous games, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, or Penumbra, you should still give SOMA your attention. 

 

Story

 SOMA is the first game in a while that actually made me feel very invested in the characters. You take on the role of Simon Jarett, a man who works at a bookstore in Toronto, and that's really all I can say about it. The storytelling is superb, the gameplay and environment only enhance the immersion and the protagonist is very believable. The pacing is the best I've seen in recent years and it is worth the time to stop and read every bit of information you can while exploring the masterfully designed world SOMA takes place in. 

 It's a deep tale about what it means to be human, and even after completing the game it still has me thinking long and hard about that answer. It's a tale about what humanity really is, what makes us who we are, and what our place is in the grand scheme of things. SOMA's story is nothing less than a de facto example of story telling done correctly, and everyone in the industry has a lot to learn from Frictional and their superb quality standards.

 

Graphics

 In addition to being superbly written, SOMA has great graphics. I run a medium-rig so I wasn't able to take full advantage of some of the graphical features SOMA has to offer, but despite that it looks beautiful.

SOMA Graphics

 

Everything from the lighting to the textures looks astounding. This isn't just a matter of high resolution or advanced rendering, but Frictional clearly took a lot of time working on the design and art-direction as well. The environment feels real, rooms you can enter feel 'lived-in', and every object is in a location that makes sense. The color-pallete choices reinforce the tone of the game well and serve to enhance the scares, from Rusty-corridors to well-lit observatories, SOMA will offer you a variety of sights that are both unique and intuitively created. 

From living quarters to the bottom of the ocean, the sights and sounds are sure to keep you interested until the very end. Amazing work, Frictional.

 

SOMA Scary

The enhancements between the HPL2 engine and HPL3 engine are not tremendous but still solid, and they provide an experience that I love so I have nothing to complain about.

 

Gameplay

 SOMA's approach to gameplay is tried and proven. Essentially it plays like Amnesia with less complication and more environmental interaction. You can smash in windows, you can crawl through vents, and you can press buttons to your heart's content. Kind of ashamed to admit it but I sent a good minute being amazed at the fact you could move the upper and lower toilet seat seperately in your apartment. I am just happy that Frictional has kept the idea that just because it's not necessary to make something interactive doesn't mean it shouldn't be interactive. The amount of exploration you can do without it being strictly necessary is very pleasant.

SOMA Screenshot

 

The way doors open, the way objects interact physically - all of it comes together to make playing this game a great time. It's proof that games don't need guns or explosives to be fun, they just need to be designed in a way that enhances the overall player experience.

In addition, it has mod support, both for add-ons and custom campaigns, meaning that you can get essentially limitless gameplay possibilities out of SOMA. 

Interacting with terminals and other objects in game feels natural and has been implemented very well. More or less, everything 'belongs' where they put it.

 

SOMA Screenshot (2)

 

Scariness

 SOMA is one of the scariest games I've played in a long time. The enemies are just inhuman enough that it makes my hairs stand on end, and the sound design is good enough to make the game frightening even whent here is no actual danger. But don't get me wrong, there is a lot of danger in SOMA, and you will need to outsmart monsters or outrun them if you wish to survive. 

 The story itself is gruesome enough to make SOMA a frightening game on a psychological level, but that combined with the threat of monsters makes this an experience that will shake you to the core in more ways than one. The first game in a long time that's actually made me shriek out loud.

 Every flickering light and every sudden noise will keep you consistently paranoid from the beginning to the end of this master piece.

Summary

 SOMA is the best game I've played in a long time, and whether you're a hardcore horror veteran or just getting into the genre, SOMA is a game that you must play. If you can play one game that has come out in 2015, make it SOMA. SOMA is well worth the price (In my opinion it's actually worth more than it costs).

Frictional deserves awards for this one, and it has proven that the gaming industry still produces fantastic games from time-to-time. It is perfection and I honestly could not find a single bad thing to say about it.

 

 

 

About the Author

Colt L.

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