I recently had the pleasure of playing through a game called SOMA. It was recommended to me and ended up being one of the best games I have ever played in my life. Because I am such a kind, generous person, I knew I had to share my thoughts with everyone so you too could enjoy the heartbreak, the fear, and the elation I felt too!
Check it out:
Full disclosure, this is a survival horror game with a strong science fiction atmosphere, so be prepared to have the pants scared off of you. SOMA was published by Frictional Games, the same people responsible for Amnesia and came out in September of 2015. So yes, I am a bit behind!
You play as sweet, innocent Canadian Simon Jarrett who is going into a lab to get his brain scanned. Poor guy was in a car accident and suffered severe enough brain damage that doctors expected him to die soon. He was invited to take part in an experimental approach, where scientists would scan his brain, and try to map out a solution that could save him.
Things don’t go as planned, because of course not, we wouldn’t have a horror game if it had. Instead of waking up in the lab, he wakes up in a dark, eerie, underwater remote research facility. You get to explore this facility, discovering a world, a reality, where machinery have taken on human characteristics and humanity is on the brink of extinction. Now it’s up to you and the Canuck to uncover what happened to him, what happened to the facility, and how he ended up there.
But I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want to include any spoilers!
If you’ve played Amnesia, you’ll be familiar with the game mechanics of SOMA. Rather than fighting the eldritch mechanical monsters head-on, your survival is based on stealth and evasion, puzzle-solving and strategy. It will be in first person and it relies heavily on psychological horror rather than traditional horror.
The atmosphere is dark and heavy, sounds are key so make sure to wear your headset and play in a dark and spooky room! I honestly was so tense playing this almost the whole time that I had to take mental health breaks.
One key thing is that so much of the plot is based on the clues you find through exploring, so you need to keep an eye out – while also evading the horrible things looking for you!
You could tell that they put so much effort into building the world that you find yourself immersed in. There are audio tapes, notes, journals, corporate white pages even!
Beyond that, you have this amazing underwater world you can explore, though it’s made eerie by the fact that everything has been infected. Fish glow with unnatural blue tumours, mammals become corrupted with machinery. The major monsters you encounter also fit with the theme and they are each unique, having their own triggers and behaviours. They also look scary as hell.
Above all though, I found Simon’s journey and the exposition lead to a bittersweet story. The publishers really did a number on my heart strings.
This is one game I think everyone should play, especially if you’re a horror fan or just a fan of a great story. If you don’t think you’d get very far, there’s actually a Safe Mode, meaning the monsters are there for a scare but won’t kill you.
This game is going to make you really think about what makes you a person, and what separates us from … something not.