I’m not sure why we like horror games, especially the ones where we aren’t even given the luxury of a weapon. SOMA is a new science fiction game that follows many of the traits shown in previous Frictional games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but also makes you feel like a bad human being in the process.
The official synopsis for SOMA says that in the game you are running out of food and the radio is dead. The only company you have are robots who appear to believe they are human, and all seemingly insane. Your task is to work out why you are there, what you’re going to do, and what the hell is going on.
The best way to go into SOMA is completely cold. It starts in an unexpected way and keeps you guessing, for a while at least. As more of the story is revealed you are pushed into actions that are designed to make you feel bad, but the fact that you are forced to do them makes it even worse, especially when it comes to your thoughts on the game.
All of this is exactly what Frictional Games want to happen though, and the story will keep you gripped. Revealing just enough for you to have a sense of dread, the scares you encounter in the game follow the same tropes as other horror games of this type. Worthy of praise though is the way that the story itself is much more engrossing than the run and hide dynamic of dealing with the entities that are awaiting you on the bottom of the sea.
The best way to view SOMA is more of a science fiction story rather than a horror. The creatures that track you through the corridors are horrific in design, and the effects of your actions are scary at times, but I did find myself becoming numb to the scariness of the creatures who are easy to strategise against. Just by watching their actions or reading/listening to the clues left will let you know exactly how they will find you, and what you need to do to hide from them. Closer to the ending of the game this does change, but you’ll often find that when this occurs the best route is to just run like hell for the place you are trying to get to.
With all this being said, one thing that is annoying at times about SOMA is the way you are introduced into the world and not provided with many hints at all. There were times that I needed to take a break from the game as I found myself just wandering the corridors not able to find an objective to help me carry on. The fact we don’t have a map to aid us just adds to the problems, though to be fair once you have an idea of what needs to be done, it doesn’t take much to get the job done.
SOMA is designed to make you feel crap about your actions, and to hate the people who have put you in the situation you are in. It raises interesting questions about robots and artificial intelligence, providing the player with a bittersweet ending that will successfully stick in your head, though you won’t be happy about it.
A Dystopian nightmare, SOMA is well worth a play for the horror game addicts who want to be chased around the corridors of a science base on the bottom of the ocean, but don’t expect to feel good about completing the game. Haunting, and bleak if SOMA provides us with a glimpse into the future of robotics then we are all doomed.
SOMA is available on PC and Playstation 4 from September 22nd.