When a game manages to invoke fear that leaves you questioning whether or not you want to keep playing, it’s an indicator that the devs have done a good job. Some games utilise jump-scares which will force you to jump at loud noises or sudden movements, but eventually you’ll come to expect them. Creating a sense of fear inside a gamer so intense, it causes you to peek around each corner to check for monstrosities, only to find said monstrosity right behind you, is an incredible feat. Frictional Games take things just that little bit further by making SOMA one of the most scary games we’ve ever played.
Platform Used For SOMA Review: Gigabyte P35, Intel i7-4720HQ 2.60GHz, 16GB Ram, GeForce GT 965M
Developer: Frictional Games
Genre: Psychological Horror, First-Person Survivor
You are a man called Simon Jarrett. An average guy, living an average life, working at a comic shop in Toronto called “The Grimoire”. Simon’s life is suddenly changed for the worse in a car accident resulting in brain damage. Simon is still mobile and coherent, but due to this condition, he suffers from bleeding and swelling in his brain, resulting in his life expectancy to be mere months long.
Seeing as there’s not much else to turn to, Simon opts for volunteering in an experimental treatment which includes a scan of his brain.
Everything after this turns Simon’s average life into one of darkness, confusion and pure fear. After Simon’s treatment, he awakens inside a room completely different to the one he initially walked into. The new environment is dark, with unknown technology surrounding him.
It is now Simon’s job to find out what is going on and how he arrived in this terrifying new location.
Playing Through Fear
SOMA is played out entirely through the eyes of Simon Jarrett. You use the usual ‘WASD’ keys to navigate the world you find yourself in, and thankfully, Frictional Games allow us a lean mechanism by pressing either the ‘Q’ or ‘E’ key. If it weren’t for the good old lean function, I would probably have used up more underwear than I own.
The new world in which Simon finds himself isn’t one where weaponry such as fire-arms or melee weapons would be found. You know what this means… there’s no way for you to defend yourself but to run and not get spotted by hostile creatures.
That being said, SOMA has an incredibly delightful system which allows you to pick up pretty much any object you can see. I probably spent a good forty-five minutes in Simon’s apartment alone, opening cupboards, placing pots and pans inside the microwave, turning on and off taps and plenty more. This functionality in itself proved to be incredibly entertaining, but as the game progresses it will also become life-saving.
Creatures that you come across throughout SOMA can sometimes be distracted by picking up an object using ‘left-click’, and throwing it using ‘right-click’ to make noise elsewhere. However, enemies are quite clever and will somehow find a way to hunt you down, forcing that little bit of wee you’ve been holding in to try and make an appearance.
In SOMA there is no health bar, or HUD at all for that matter. If you get attacked, you’ll be knocked out and wake up close to where it was you were knocked unconscious. The only indicator of your health is when your surroundings will become distorted and the screen attains a slight red hue. Simon will also begin limping, causing his movement speed to decrease.
Getting smacked around a couple of times will result in your death, compelling you to start again from the last save point. Unlike some games I’ve played, the save points in SOMA are refreshingly frequent so you won’t be starting again from too far back in your journey.