Soma on Xbox One will have 50% less scares


#1
Soma on Xbox One will have 50% less scares Soma is getting an official “safe mode” that removes monster attacks. Frictional Games’ lauded techno-horror game will land on Xbox One on December 1st, and the developers have added a mode that removes monster attacks so the player can freely explore and experience the psychological fear without worrying about running from clumsy automatons. According to Frictional, some mamby-pamby cowards have been too frightened of the monster attacks to play the game. This new version of the game should solve that problem. Players on PC have had a Wuss Mode mod available almost since launch thanks to the Steam Workshop.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2017/11/20/soma-xbox-one-will-50-less-scares/

#2

Your blurb doesn’t mention that the same “no monster” patch is also officially coming to PC on the same date (and PS4 later).


#3

Poor Soma. Too terrifying for everyone!


#4

I’ll admit I’m not a fan of scares. So I’m more likely to play Soma on the Xbox One now.


#5

Oh man, I was always going to play this, been kind of holding off on a Steam purchase because I heard it was coming to Xbox. Is this so much worse, or scarier, than something like Alien Isolation, which I barely squeaked through on its easy mode?


#6

Neat! I played it on PC with the wuss mode addon myself. Just wanted to explore and see the story, not constantly hide and run away from monsters.


#7

I am scared even in a stupid standard FPS, and I played through Soma because the story was so gripping.
The removal of monsters is a tough choice: the anticipation of their presence is what generates a lot of the tension and provides an hostile feel to the environment, but their removal might lift one of the only slightly gamey and chilidsh aspect of what is a really terrific fiction work. Ideally, if the game could have pulled a Gone Home from the start, it would have been the perfect solution at the time!
This is a rare fiction. You should experience it, it may stay with you for a while like it is staying with me to this day.


#8

This might put your mind at ease. The monsters aren’t really gone:

Speaking to PC Gamer, Thomas Grip, founder of Frictional Games and director of SOMA, explained that Safe Mode won’t actually remove the game’s monsters. Instead, they’ll remain part of the experience, but now, rather than trying to kill you, will react to your presence inquisitively.

“So while you can’t die [in Safe Mode], the monsters may still be dangerous if you push your luck too much,” says Grip. “This means there’s still a sense of hostility in these creatures, which preserves the original intention of making the world feel inhospitable and oppressive.”

More info quoted in the article.


#9

Sounds like a very elegant solution, then!


#10

People are actually calling for games to be turned into walking simulators now? Yeesh.


#11

People can play their single player games any way they like. The full fat Soma experience is still there if you want it.

Yeesh indeed.


#12

ssyeesh


#13

Huh. Of all the scary games I’ve played, I would not have picked Soma as one that people would see a need for this sort of thing.

I mean, it definitely had a few terrifying moments, but they were relatively brief moments, and overall, I don’t even really put it into the category of “Scary Games”. High-tension, yes; scary, no.

But hey, if there are that many people still on the fence that haven’t played the game because of that, then I’m all for it if it will help fatten up Frictional’s coffers. We need more games from them.


#14

My understanding is the aversion to the monsters isn’t about fear but about tedium. That’s certainly why I’ve been holding off playing.


#15

Supposed to release today, and I’m all standing here with a fistful of cash, Fry-like, but no game. Dum-de-dum …


#16

SOMA’s one of my favourite games from the last few years and I say this as someone who found Alien Isolation too long and ultimately tedious.

I think Frictional were very economical with encounters in SOMA so this update surprises me; I never felt that the game got bogged down with tedious evasion or frustrating repetition and/or death, not in the same way as Alien Isolation. Not to mention, they struck a really fine balance between tense sections fraught with dread (brought on by the possibility of getting got) and more ‘leisurely’ areas where the environments, sound and visual design had more room and time to breath. The pace was impeccable to me. All this married to what I found a truly gripping story with a – shock! horror! – great ending.

All that said, this was interesting:

However, according to Grip, the time that’s passed since SOMA’s original release has allowed the studio to consider its approach more thoroughly, “I think the biggest problem with SOMA is that the experience of meeting the creatures doesn’t really add anything to the themes. They help build the atmosphere, but the stories they generate don’t have a lot to do with the game’s larger themes of identity and consciousness.

The takeaway, says Grip, is that “now it’s quite clear to me that we can’t keep thinking about monsters as we did in Amnesia: The Dark Descent”. The Safe Mode experiment, it seems, has been a success, “I’m actually surprised by how well it all turned out. It fits the game far better than I thought it would when we started working on it. To be honest, it even made me question if this was the way the game should have been released in the first place.”

I love that Frictional are still learning and experimenting and surprising themselves. While I agree that the enemies weren’t strictly necessary for the story, they do make you feel vulnerable which in turn makes you pay attention and exercise caution and run like heck if you’re noticed. If you go in knowing there’s no danger at all then it strips out an entire level of tension. Where’s the excitement in that?

Was just reading the comments and thought ‘Yeah exactly, this guy’s got it.’

What scares me about the SOMA monsters, though, isn’t just that they’re creepy, it’s that they pose a real threat, a punishment for getting it wrong. That creates tension, particularly as you get closer and closer to escaping it. If I knew they couldn’t actually harm me, I’d habituate to them a lot more quickly and start to view them as a nuisance.

A classic example is where you’re trying to reach the sub in the abandoned ship, the eventual flight into it, quickly shutting the door behind you, that sense of overwhelming relief, I can’t imagine that experience if the creature I was running from couldn’t actually kill me. I’m sure it would be creepy, but it wouldn’t be the same.

Then noticed it was by @krayzkrok. Great comment, sir!


#17

That got a smile out of me.


#18

It is tough to discuss the creatures and stay spoiler-free, but the line the game is walking on with them is very thin. There is a feeling of contradiction tied to their presence, but at the same time, the justification is pretty clever. What a complicate game, in all its aspects!
That being said, I never got a clue about when a zone was safe. If anything, I was sometimes tenser in supposedly roomy zones (probably because I expected the game to exploit the situation)


#19

Yes, totally! (I’ve added some spoiler tags above too). This is what I was getting at with Frictional’s encounter economy; they know when to let your imagination do the work and when to surprise you, and without being cheap. Really great stuff.

The final enemy, Jin Yoshida or the ‘Deep Sea Diver’ in Tau, I managed to get round very easily, somehow, but I hear he was really nasty to evade. He looked and sounds terrifying.


#20

The enemies are really annoying, because the screen glitches up and you get oooooooh scary high bass sounds, and you just need to run away and hide. Game’s better without 'em.