Soma: Amnesia in Space! (new horror game from Frictional)


#41

Plus, I’d argue that the market is fairly well saturated now with horror games in which you can’t fight back. When Amnesia launched, that was a pretty new idea to a lot of people. Now? You can’t go ten games in a Steam queue without hitting a knockoff game.

Amnesia is also a lot more YouTube/Twitch friendly because it’s very generic in terms of the setting and there isn’t much going on with respect to the plot that needs to really be attended to. It’s a haunted mansion with monsters that chase you. Soma, in contrast is less scary I think because you’re asked to think about a bunch of “deep” sci-fi concepts along the way.

Edit: ~50k on Steam at least. http://steamspy.com/app/282140


#42

I don’t think Soma’s philosophical angles make the game less scary. As the Frictional guys say, horror is subjective; what one person finds scary, another does not, hence the reactions range from “not scary” to “scariest thing ever”. I actually didn’t find Amnesia that frightening, with two notable exceptions where I near shit myself, but it was more tension that real fear. Soma brings out real fear in me, I think because of the setting which has some kind of psychological effect on me. I just played a section earlier and nearly flung my headphones off my head out of terror; some unspeakable thing that was shambling around spotted me and, I should have guessed, ran straight at me making an unearthly wailing noise. The inability to get out of the way in time meant that I hammered the ESC key to make it stop, waving my arms around at the same time. What fascinates me is that others have clearly played through this same section and shrugged their shoulders at it. However, playing this at 1am with the sound on very high and the lights out really tends to have that effect, whereas playing in the middle of the day with the sound turned down is not going to have much impact on me.


#43

I meant in context of a YouTube Let’s Play or stream. Amnesia’s setting and story is more conducive to the panicky PewDiePie antics, whereas Soma isn’t quite as OOOOOGHFUNNYACES type scares.


#44

I’m not particularly happy with the level design in this game. A number of times I’ve found myself lost and not sure where I needed to go or what I’m expected to do, which really sucks the tension out of it. I’m currently about three hours in, but I definitely prefer the two Amnesia games so far.


#45

The level design isn’t that complicated, but the game doesn’t have hud indicator, compass, journal, or anything that helps you, which makes you do a few laps around sometimes.


#46

Yeah, the maps seem pretty simple for the most part (though I’ve gotten disoriented a couple of times in the water sections and just had to wander around for a while) but I often feel like I don’t have a clear idea of what I should be doing or where I should be going. And that’s not helped when there’s a monster around I have to avoid while I have to accomplish… something?


#47

Well that’s partly due to the story, where you’re not supposed to have any idea what’s going on when you first arrive, but as you progress your objectives certainly become much clearer. It’s also part of the pacing of the game, you’re supposed to explore each section and figure out what to do next, staged puzzle areas in effect. I agree the underwater sections can be a bit hard to navigate at first, but I noticed the devs placed illuminated structures at regular intervals to pull you in the right general direction. There’s definitely a sense, due to the limited visibility, that you could wander off in any direction, but I thought they’d done a decent job with clues. Don’t they also introduce you to the guide bot early on too? It seems to know where to go.


#48

I finally found the time to revisit this game and finish it. I fucking loved this game, just a refreshing, intelligent and thought-provoking experience… interspersed with moments of pure terror. Pretty much my perfect hope for the game, really. Glad to hear it did well for Frictional. I really should go back and finish Amnesia at some point, I never quite got to the end.


#49

Hey! Good news for scaredycats!

If you wanted to play SOMA for the plot and atmosphere, but didn’t want to bother with the RAWWR MONSTARRS! bits, then this mod may be your answer!

Wuss Mode: Monsters Won’t Attack

This addon renders nearly all enemies in the main story non-hostile during regular gameplay.


#50

What a bunch of haterz in this thread! Me and krayzkrok are gonna start a Soma fanclub and you’re not invited!

I love that it was a horror game that relied on metaphysical horror instead of jumpscares, which is what so many dumbass videogamers expect. I blame dumbass horror movies. And Let’s Plays, as Telefrog mentioned. You can blame most things wrong with videogame coverage these days on Let’s Plays! Junk like Five Nights at Freddie’s has guaranteed that most videogame horror is terrible. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some crap “horror” based solely on forced reloads and jump scares. Soma is so good partly because it doesn’t need that junk.

Turin, thanks for your breakdown of what you called the B plot stuff. Much of that stuff kind of faded into the background for me as I played. The WAU and the gel and the team carrying the ARK down and then back up was basically pre-Fall backstory, dusty remains. To me, its main relevance was discovering Catherine’s fate. That it was sort of anti-climactic reminded me of Firewatch. In fact, a lot of Soma reminded me of Firewatch. Specifically, a lot of Soma highlighted my problems with Firewatch.

-Tom


#51

Really enjoyed your review. Especially the last paragraph.

It took me a long time to realize that Soma is not a horror game. But once I took my expectations out of it and played it on its own terms, I really got into it and enjoyed it quite a lot.

That said, there were several times I nearly did crap my pants. Because by that time, I was certain this was not going to be a horror game.

Soma has a lot of layers. And yes, I’d agree it’s best played going into it with no knowledge of it. Or expectations. Remove all of those and just let it happen.


#52

I wish that after I completed the survey at the end of the game, they would have let me compare my answers to the same survey I took earlier in the game.


#53

Dammit Tom, I did not need another game on my radar right now! I just finished Firewatch and really enjoyed (mostly for the voice acting and the story it was telling) it but also agreed with pretty much everything in your review. I don’t want to know anything about Soma except for roughly how long is this game and how much of a horror game is it? I’m the guy that can’t really watch any horror movies without hiding behind my hands (which is why I don’t really watch any horror movies) so if this game has jumpscares or other suitably “scary” interactions it might not be for me.


#54

Yes! I declare the Soma fanclub open, we will be serving lemonade and chocolate chip cookies. For members only though.

agapepilot, there are no jumpscares, but there are situations where there is something nasty wandering around. It can be pretty intense at times (think, cowering in a shadowy corner, or running away) so it makes for a lot of thick and fearful tension. Nothing ever jumps out at you though, it’s not that kind of game. There is, as Tom mentions in the review, a mod to make the place a bit safer. It would certainly remove a lot of the fear, and possibly quite a bit of the atmosphere, but if the fear is a barrier then it’s worth using it to experience the game.

How long is it? I played it for 15 hours. I’m the kind of player who is very thorough with exploration, reading logs, soaking in the atmosphere though, so it’s certainly possibly to do it faster. But why would you want to?


#55

Dammit. I thought I could safely ignore this game, since I don’t like horror games and Frictional’s previous game Penumbra seemed to me to be way overrated. At least it’s still at an unaffordable price for me right now, so I can wishlist it and wait for a sale. Sounds real real good though.


#56

Frictional’s previous game isn’t Penumbra, but Amnesia.


#57

Turin, previous just means prior. It doesn’t have to mean immediately prior.

Nightgaunt, I didn’t get very far in Frictional’s Amnesia, but didn’t care for the parts I played. Nice atmosphere, but the puzzles and “escape teh MONSTAR” bits didn’t work for me.

Mr. Pilot, my Steam account said ten hours after my first playthrough. And krok is right about the horror. It’s not at all the usual jumpscares (I’m playing Layers of Fear right now which is nothing but jumpscares; fuck that game…). I think there’s one jumpscare early on with tubes falling out of the ceiling. The usual “oh no it’s a monster no it’s not” gimmick. But just that once. Really, Soma is metaphysical horror, and arguably not so much horror as despair. Honestly, I’d call it 90% sci-fi with really dark elements that quality as horror.

-Tom


#58

Thanks, purchased! I’ll try and fit this in somewhere between Rise of the Tomb Raider and The Crew:)


#59

The most logical thing I thought was he just had a lapse and was really thinking in Amnesia but wrote Penumbra by mistake. It didn’t make sense to me for someone to refer to Penumbra, which was released several years ago, instead of the game in the same subgenre which is much more famous and more modern, Amnesia. In fact he calls it “way overrated”, but Penumbra was never particularly loved, and it had a metacritic of ~70, in the other hand Amnesia was much more well liked.


#60

I read this thread after I started it and was mystified by the meh response. I mean, whatever…it’s a really fantastic, creepy little game. Glad to see it getting some due.

Isn’t this review a little late, though?