Frictional Games has made remarkable horror games since Penumbra Overture back in 2007. The way they create tension, thrill, and horror has shaped the game industry. Even though we are big fans of the Amnesia series (okay, maybe Machine for Pigs wasn’t that good), today we will talk about SOMA. The game that changed our, and probably will change your, vision of horror games. SOMA is a well-written, almost perfectly designed masterpiece. Without further ado, let’s begin our review.
SOMA is a survival psychological horror game with a narrative like no other. It was developed and published by Frictional Games. We already talked about how good and well-known they are. It was released on September 22, 2015.
The thing that makes SOMA different from Frictional Games’ other releases is its narrative. Usually, there is a supernatural thing that wants to kill you. But in SOMA, you will be more scared by thoughts and reality than monsters. Here is a summary of the game with tiny spoilers that won’t affect your overall gameplay. As a final warning, if you haven’t played the game yet, we recommend you play it first. So you can understand the review better.
We are playing as Simon Jarrett, who had an accident and lost his two friends. He survived with permanent brain damage. Looking for a cure, Simon agrees to an experimental treatment that involves a brain scan. After finding the doctor and taking the scan, he wakes up in a different place. Teleporting to somewhere he’s never been and without any memory shocks the player as much as Simon. That is one of the best things about SOMA.
The antagonist is relatable in almost every situation. Because, like him, we are in an unknown world as well. He contacts Catherine Chun, who will guide and inform him throughout his journey, and the game begins.
On his way, he will face technology with impressive and scary powers, humanity’s fate, and the meaning of being alive. The absolute best thing about SOMA is its ending. The game offers an ending that satisfies but crushes the player at the same time. The tension that builds up every single second ends with reality.
The gameplay is simple. You have a flashlight and an omnitool that will have several uses in the story. If there is a bad aspect to SOMA, hiding and running through corridors might be the one. Walking in shadows and shaking while waiting for the creature to go away is usually fun (we are using this word in a horror game fan’s manner). But it gets a bit casual and even boring at some point. After dying several times, you find yourself saying, “C’mon, my horrible-looking friend, just go away. I need to go that way.” Also, walking in the water isn’t very fast. So, all the thrills throughout the game calm down a little. It’s not necessarily bad. It just makes these parts a bit dull.
The graphics are decent for a game in 2015. The sound effects are too good. Hearing the footsteps of the monsters is quite tense.
Last but not least, is voice acting. The shaking voice of Simon when he learns about who he is, the comforting voice of Catherine when she tries to calm him down. The actors did a great job of putting us into the game.
The narrative of SOMA sinks you deeper into each step. At first, you want to get out. Later in the story, you want to do the right thing. Also, asking who you are and having multiple existential crises. The people you meet almost always put you in a moral dilemma. Thinking about your life depends only on the toss of a coin. You will ask about the meaning of consciousness, life, and death. When you finish the game, you will have many loose ends. Not about the story of the game, but about life itself. What are your thoughts and feelings about the game? Share it with us in the comments.
SOMA is Available for PCs and Console
Overall, we recommend the game to all gamers. Horror might not be your thing. But if you like a narrative-driven story with deep philosophical questions, don’t miss it. PC gamers can find SOMA on Steam and Epic Store for $29,99. SOMA is also available for consoles, including PS4 and Xbox One. As we mentioned before, the game was released back in 2015, so it’s not as demanding as you might think. Just to be safe, here are the recommended system requirements:
- OS: 64-bit Windows 7
- Processor: Core i5/AMD FX 2.4Ghz
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480/AMD Radeon HD 5970. OpenGL 3.3
- Storage: 25 GB of available space
- Additional Notes: Integrated Intel graphics are not supported. They should work (Intel HD 4000-series or better), but with issues.