SOMA, a Frictional Games game, has a terrific atmosphere as well as a fascinating, thought-provoking tale. Although the plot occasionally drags and not all interactions with the creatures are executed flawlessly, we were treated to a really nice and atmospheric production.
The makers of the horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent abandoned the topic of insanity in favor of exploring the meaning of existence and mankind. It must be acknowledged that this strategy enabled us to generate a distinct mood that was sensed practically throughout the entire experience. Simon is the protagonist. Even a brief description of his character and a brief prologue would ruin the game for those who want to play it, so suffice it to state that the man finds himself suddenly in a strange research facility at the bottom of the ocean. He must figure out what is going on around him, where he is, and learn about the history of the undersea facility. In SOMA, the story is the most crucial part. We progressively learn about the station’s history and discover – or make educated guesses about – what happened to the personnel. We already know why we’re in such an uninteresting condition after 3-4 hours, thus one piece of the mystery is gone. Fortunately, there is another one relating to the secrets of the ocean complex and artificial intelligence operations.
Smaller aspects of the plot, relating to various robots or individuals we encounter, are equally engaging. The game appears to explore concerns about machine mind and sentiments on many occasions, elegantly combining the topic of robots with the issue of human nature. For example, is a body required to be human? Some moments are thought-provoking, and the designers should be commended for this. We see the action via the hero’s eyes. The gameplay is comparable to those of other horror games of this genre. We search the following rooms, start generators and computers, check for information, and listen to audio logs. To continue our quest, we also collect other artifacts and access closed doors. What counts is perceptiveness and good recall – occasionally a map of the place is hanging on the wall, then you have to look attentively at where the precise room you want to travel to is located. We don’t have a map available. The investigation of the gloomy facility is occasionally interrupted by bizarre creatures that seem like a hybrid between humans and robots. The authors have created a variety of creatures, each of which behaves differently, ensuring that interactions with them do not grow repetitive. However, it must be noted that some fights just devolve into a game of tag. Fortunately, it is uncommon. Mysterious creatures frighten us when they are far away, when we can hear them but not see them. When they discover us and pursue us, we just flee, and the enchantment is broken.
There are also unusually constructed creatures, such as one that can only see us when we move. When we gaze at him, he reacts. This sort of encounter is also accompanied by a particular effect on the screen that helps you to estimate your distance from the attacker. Despite the fact that we are not dealing with any supernatural phenomenon, the mood was tense. The dread factor isn’t as intense as in other horror films, but we nevertheless feel awkward, uncomfortable, and alien – much like the main character. It’s difficult to get rid of the unsettling sense that something is always awry. Great sound design helps some robots’ noises are scary, half-human. The graphics do not disappoint, but neither do they wow. The most essential thing is that the designs of diverse species and the concept of the robo-virus taking over the station are a success. It’s unfortunate that the hero speaks. His reactions to some occurrences appear contrived at first, but we learn later that he has thoroughly accepted his condition and does not question practically anything unlike the player. The tale would be considerably more effective if Simon did not talk. Exploring the environment would be devoid of weird dissonance and the continual sense that if we were in the shoes of the characters, we might occasionally act radically differently.
The PC review version has minor technical issues, such as obvious frame rate reductions while accessing new locales. The game simply crashed three times. SOMA isn’t the most terrifying interactive horror game ever. It is, nevertheless, a fascinating and compelling narrative about the significance of awareness and the essence of mankind. It may be frightening, but it appears that creating horror was not a goal for the developers.