I knew about Amnesia, but never played it. I only played Penumbra which, even viewed through a “first game from indie devs” lens I thought was lacking (more than a 70-ish% rating would indicate). Particularly in the “environmental storytelling” arena, which seemed like what it should have been striving for. I skipped Amnesia because seriously scary games are not my bag and because I wasn’t confident they were interested in improving that kind of environmental storytelling, just making creepy situations. But I trust it’s a much better game and generally deserves its reputation among horror game fans.
I’ve been wanting to play this one since I first heard about it, just don’t have a machine that can run it right now. Based on what I’ve read, it sounds like it covers similar thematic territory that one of my favorite movies of recent years did, though it occurs to me I can’t mention it since I could spoil people who haven’t played Soma as well as those who haven’t seen the movie I’m thinking of. Anyway, I envy those of you who are playing.
The jump in quality between Penumbra and Amnesia is quite noticeable, they really learned a lot from what was essentially a trilogy of games. Soma is, in my opinion, a similar leap in quality both in terms of storytelling and the world they have created. Penumbra feels like their early demo tapes, Amnesia is their first album, and Soma is the one where it all comes together.
One of the luxuries of having my own site is that I can run reviews whenever I feel like it. :) But, yeah, I’m definitely late to the party on this. That said, I feel strongly that a review should be a good read even for people who have already played a game, seen a movie, listened to an album.
I don’t really care that it won’t get Qt3 any traffic, but I do wish I’d reviewed this in a more timely manner because it would have knocked something off my top ten list from last year. I hate that! I hate going back and playing something or seeing something and realizing too late that it belongs on my personal “best of” list!
I’m pretty sure I know the movie you’re talking about! :) It also reminded me of another videogame that I can’t mention without spoiling things. Suffice to say the other videogame did a terrible job with the concept by just using it as a throwaway plot point.
I got discouraged pretty early in Amnesia. I felt like it was just a puzzle game with an indestructible monster occasionally frustrating you. But given what Frictional did with Soma, I’m wondering if I should go back and give Amnesia another chance. However, since so much of what made Soma work for me is the storytelling, the concept, the overall metaphor, and especially the superlative atmosphere and setting, I’m wondering if Amnesia would just pale in comparison to the point that it’s hardly worth bothering. Thoughts, as a fellow Soma fanboi?
I think I’d have to revisit the game for a fair assessment, as it’s been a while. However, the fact that I can’t remember anything really about the story suggests that it didn’t really make any impression on me. I don’t recall being compelled to finish the game to solve the mystery behind the events in Amnesia, unlike Soma which was extremely compelling. I think Frictional really matured in not only their storytelling but also their ability to integrate it into the gameplay; Amnesia felt like a horror game with story elements inserted into it, whereas Soma’s gameplay and story worked as a whole. At least, that’s my recollection, but as I never finished the game I’ve been meaning to go back for a while. What Amnesia did well, though, was create a vivid sense of place; all of the physical elements of the engine that you see in Soma were in place in Amnesia already. It’s what made it such an effective horror game, again without resorting to jump scares (although undoubtedly it was more transparently trying to scare you).
We just picked this up last weekend, and would like a ticket to board the SOMA hype train. I didn’t care for Amnesia, and I can’t say the concepts were anything new or earth shattering, but we went in cold and were able to really appreciate how the story unfolded as you progressed. This is the first game in awhile where we made a point to read every document and log we could find.
I also really enjoyed the puzzles in the game. We didn’t have to look up a FAQ on anything, but we were really stuck on some of those rooms, and enjoyed digging for answers. I’m really happy I was turned on to this one.
Normally, I’d say this is one of those games that has no replayability. But like a good movie, Soma is worth playing once to discover, and a second time to more closely appreciate.
And done! What a great game this was. I think I got about halfway a few months ago and then ended up taking a break for various reasons but came back to it recently and couldn’t put it down until I finished. I really liked the relationship between Catherine and Simon and how it was obvious Catherine had her own motivations and was willing to use Simon (and the player) to accomplish her goal. What I really need to know though is who was the disappearing man/monster who convinces Simon to kill the Wau? Was that the engineer who came back from Alpha dead? The one who died first I guess and who wanted to shut down the WAU while he was still alive? If the game explained who that was I must have missed it. Overall one of the better stories I’ve experienced in a game in awhile.
May I join the SOMA fan club? :) I am only halfway through the game, but for now this is a masterpiece of atmosphere and narration in the gaming medium.
SOMA is more than the sum of its parts, and that is why it is so effective. Some people like to describe it as a “walking simulator + survival horror game”, but I think it can be called that only on its most primitive and formal, mechanical levels. Like others here have said, it serves the game and our understanding of it better if we put it under the metaphysical and existential horror descriptors. And ‘walking simulators’… You can’t make up a much more stupid name than that. I hope those who did it will find themselves in the postapocalyptic underwater base in the afterlife, where they can walk to their heart’s content. Or maybe not. :)
The only negative aspect I can think of at this point is the average (at best) voice acting, and even less than average in the case of the main actor.
I missed @agapepilot’s question a couple of months ago. I’ve kept the spoiler blur obviously. The answer is that it’s Johan Ross, one of the AI Specialists who helped create the WAU. Yes, he’s the guy who keeps disappearing on you and scaring the crap out of you. He’s not hostile because he wants to use you to do what he could not, and that is destroy the WAU. He saw the WAU as a threat through its manipulation of the structure gel and ability to corrupt machines and living organisms, but the WAU killed him before he could do the same to it. At some point he’s resurrected by the WAU for some nefarious purpose (I’m not clear on why!) and so Ross tries to convince you to complete the task. Because you’re using his modified structure gel (that was modified to kill the WAU) to power the suit you’re in, Ross directs you to the heart so you can kill it. That’s where you get the choice near the end there. I had to look some of this up again because I’d forgotten a lot of it, but he explains some of this when you’re in the Abyss.
I liked Soma so much that I watched the dopey live action webseries the publisher made to promote the game.
Is there anything interesting in it? I only watched the first episode, and then stopped, being afraid of the spoilers.
Ah yeah that’s what I thought I just didn’t remember any specific conversation where that was answered.
@tomchick I know nothing about this, does it add anything to the story?
Since this game is the Humble Monthly early game, I just popped in to ask: Can I safely assume that if I’m not a horror fan, and generally don’t like horror movies or games, then just like with the developer’s previous game, Amnesia, this game won’t be my cup of tea?
It’s been a while, but I seem to remember various clues to this being found throughout the logs, bits of what certain characters tell you, etc. I had a general sense of this, but when I looked up a wiki about the character and the WAU, there’s a hell of a lot more there than I picked up! Worth a read if you’re invested in the story. Perhaps I should watch these videos that Tom’s talking about, I missed all that pre-release stuff.
I suppose your reaction will depend on what you find scary. I know some didn’t find it particularly frightening, but it scared the shit out of me in places. It’s undoubtedly intended to be - at the very least - very unsettling, and there are sequences with creatures that are designed to be very intense; the kind of intense that has me hitting the light switch because I can’t take too much of it. It’s not a game about jump scares, but the themes and atmosphere can be frightening. Do you like being hunted and chased through darkened corridors occasionally? It’s not a big part of the game, but you have to face it every so often. There are some who’ll tell you they found My Little Pony to be more frightening, but those are crazy people. How does it compare with Amnesia? I found Soma to be scarier, others did not. But like I said horror is subjective, so it really depends on what childhood trauma you had that defines what you find scary.
I’ll piggyback on what @krayzkrok said and say that for myself I found this just the right amount of scary. I’m right there with you @Rock8man in that I am not a fan of horror and I usually ‘nope’ right out of anything remotely resembling a jump scare in movies or games. That being said there were are few parts in Soma that had me somewhat uncomfortable but I found that jump scares were few are far between. As Krayzkrok said, this is more unsettling than outright scary. I would say take a chance on Soma, the story, atmosphere, world building are all top-notch and well worth the risk of a few scares.
I wouldn’t call it a horror game on the whole, but I will agree with this line anyway.
The live action webseries doesn’t have any spoilers per se, but there’s really no reason to watch it before you play the game. It has very little to do with the game and seems to have been written and filmed by people who don’t really get the game or know much about the story.
As for the kind of horror in Soma, it’s a spooky game, not a traditionally “scary” game. In fact, I don’t remember a single jumpscare in Soma. Not that there wasn’t one. There may have been. But I don’t recall it. Contrast this with the really stupid Until Dawn, where all I remember are the jumpscares.
I entirely agree with @krayzkrok here, and I’ll add there are even sequences* without creatures that are so intense that I started panicking. But if the part on the Curie is not frightening, I don’t know what is.
*when Simon experience some sort of electromagnetic fits without any visible - at least to me - source
If you like hard scifi and well written one at that, play SOMA. Yes it is scary in places, and opressive. But it is so good it is worth overcoming.