Soma is touted as a sci-fi horror survival game, so I started it expecting to discover an experience similar to other survival horror titles such as Evil Within and Alien Resurrection to name just two. I was however pleasantly surprised at the story that unfolds as you play. There are sections of the game, where the lighting and atmospheric music that is present throughout Soma, that gets the heartbeat racing and the mind wondering what is around the next corner. I will say now that I played the game in ‘safe mode’ which allows you to play the game without fear of the various monsters actually killing you. This in no way detracts from the fear and suspense as the jump scares are still there to surprise you, it’s just that this mode allows you to play through the story without the annoyance of getting killed and having to restart at the last checkpoint. I have no shame in playing the ‘safe’ version and can confirm that it is still creepy as hell in places.
The story starts you off as a character called Simon, you begin in your apartment and the backstory is played out through voice messages and e-mails that are available to you. Exploration of the surroundings is also introduced here as you are prompted to search for your medication, after you have discovered what you’re looking for then you go to the doctors office and the strangeness begins. I can’t really say much more about the story without spoiling it, so I’ll stop here and instead talk about other aspects of the game and post a few screenshots to whet your appetite.
As I said previously the lighting and music that Frictional have used for Soma is excellent, each section has numerous rooms to search and you can interact with pretty much everything that isn’t nailed down. This comes in handy at various points where you have to gain access to a locked door and can see no way to unlock it, have a look around and see if there is anything heavy to pick up and if there is, then throw it through a window and gain access to the room that way. I have to admit to just picking random things up and throwing them around…….just because I could.
There are numerous audio files to be played and e-mails to read that add to the story and it’s quite fun to have a good old root around the rooms and very satisfying when you find something useful. At various points there are puzzles to solve before you can advance and thankfully they are not too taxing although, as I said, I was in safe mode so I can imagine they would be harder if you had the risk of imminent death hanging over you.
Graphically Soma hits the nail on the head in what it’s trying to portray, a dark, dank atmosphere that keeps you on edge thinking what could be in the shadows around the next corner, exploration is a big part of the game and I can’t think of a time when I thought ‘ well they could have done this better’ . The mood is perfect throughout and after completion( took me around 8 hours) you are left contemplating what has just happened and also thinking ‘well how far away in reality is all this from actually happening’ The underwater sections in particular are very very well done and you sense the solitude of being alone on the ocean floor and the vastness of your surroundings is apparent. Even is safe mode it is possible to die here if you wander too far from the path and fall into the abyss, so care is still needed.
I’m not usually a fan of the jump scare games but Soma was a joy to play from start to finish and I’m glad I had the chance to play it.
Frictional have done an excellent job here and I highly recommend taking a look.
I give Soma a well deserved 9/10.
Code for review was provided by the publishers and as always we thank you.
- Thought Provoking