SOMA – Review
Follow Genres: Survival horror
Developer: Frictional Games
Publisher: Frictional Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC, Linux, Mac OS
Tested on: PC

SOMA – Review

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Good: Tense gameplay
Bad: Unclear on how enemies will react
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A stoma is an incised opening that is kept open for drainage or other purposes, such as the opening in the abdominal wall. SOMA is something equally horrifying and mind-bogglingly terrifying. It will also leave you mentally scarred. The game was created by Frictional Games, the creators of Amnesia. SOMA is a horror survival game set in an underwater facility. Move over Bioshock. 



SOMA has a dark story. You were in a car accident and aside from losing a friend, you’ve also contracted a disease which affects the way your brain works. You are in contact with a doctor who wants to scan your brain and find a treatment and this is how the ball starts rolling. As soon as you start the scan, you are blinded by the light and you wake up in another place all together. A completely overrun, destroyed place.


Things start going from bad to worse as you piece together what has happened. A giant meteorite has hit Earth and the surface of the planet was no longer inhabitable so mankind went undersea. Still researching and evolving technologically, humanity sought ways to overcome death. The quest has proven fruitful, but to what end? The longer you play, the more the story pulls you in. The theory behind the sci-fi setting seems to hold up to scrutiny making it very convincing.


When you think about current generation games, then all you can think about is how graphically stunning the games will be. SOMA however could have been released on last generation consoles, if you are to only consider graphics. To be blunt, the graphics aren’t bad, but they aren’t stellar either. SOMA does have some really creepy scenery and the whole underwater sections and the deserted hallways of the base, although it doesn’t resort to keeping things dark and using only one colour palette to keep things tense.


The enemies are all strange and even though some of them come close to being human, all of them could have easily been wearing neon signs saying: ‘Stay away, I am certain death!’. This is a good thing. Don’t judge a book by its cover is also a saying that comes to mind when you are traversing the sea floor and the facilities and interact with the other inhabitants. Unless they have glowing eyes make animalistic sounds. In this case, judge by the cover, make like pigeons and flock off.


This is where SOMA feels off. The dialogue is intriguing and well written, however the deliverance of the lines feels lacklustre due to the complete lack of emotion. At first this is jarring, but as the story unfolds, the reason behind this is unveiled. When you know why it is, it makes sense and it actually feels like a lot of thought went into it.


When you are traversing desolate places, what is often your biggest enemy is fear. This is where SOMA shines. You’ll hear all sorts of sounds as you wander around. Your footsteps sound so very loud and you can’t shake the feeling something will be waiting for you behind the corner. This often puts you at the edge of your seat. When enemies are around you’ll feel your spine tingling and you’ll want to get out of there as fast as possible. So as far as horror goes, SOMA aces it.


SOMA is a horror survival game in the vein of Alien: Isolation. Like Alien: Isolation you’ll be up against enemies which you can’t kill, but have all the intention of killing you. Just hiding doesn’t always work. Every enemy reacts differently, they’ll either react to sound, your movement speed or your proximity or sight. Whichever will trigger their aggressiveness is unclear. When encountering them your first instinct is to run the opposite direction. Whether or not they’ll follow and hunt you down is unclear. There are also no logs specifying which enemy does what, so you’ll never really know what they do.


You’ll wander around a lot of hallways and unplug a lot of stuff. An alien entity has overtaken the base and you’ll often be tasked with unplugging it and stop it from stealing the juice from the base. This will restore energy and help you open doors. When this happens… it often opens doors for enemies alike. When an enemy hits you, you’ll be damaged and your view will become blurry which is an indication your health is lowered. Usually you can take about three hits before you die. Sometimes two, it is unclear just how many hits you can take. The invisible life bar doesn’t replenish unless you use restoration points scattered throughout the game.


SOMA isn’t without its bugs. Now when an enemy does hit you, you’ll regain your composure and the enemy will still be near, it’ll rush back over, hitting you again, either killing you or leaving you with a very blurry sight. Then all of a sudden the enemy despawns and it will be nowhere near you. So if you rush to the target and the enemy hits you and you live, chances are they’ll despawn and leave you to get away. This makes the game more about brute forcing your way through the corridors than clever planning and outwitting the foes. If you want to take a break from the story you can always wander around the base and toss around the items that are strewn around the place. ‘Hey look, an eyeball.’


SOMA is a horror survival game that doesn’t have much going on for it in the graphical department but what it lacks there, it makes up for in gameplay, storytelling and tension. If you are hungering for a very immersive and frightening experience where no enemy will react to you the same way, then dive into SOMA and face your own fears.


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First game ever was Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped, ever since then, gaming has been something that I've gravitated to. Reading's fun but not as interactive. Always up for a bout of online multiplayer. If that multiplayer is co-op. So if you are up for a friendly co-op session, hit me up. Rahenik's the name to search on PSN.

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