Now Playing: Soma (2015)

Soma is the latest horror adventure game from Frictional Games, makers of the Amnesia and Penumbra series, and they have really outdone themselves this time.

It’s hard to describe the amazing story of the game very well without giving too much away, and this is really the kind of game that you want to DIVE right into knowing as little as possible to achieve maximum mind-fuckage.

To put it as vaguely as possible though, this is a game about trying to survive in a mysterious underwater lab complex, where various robots and/or monsters try to eat you, thus teaching you valuable lessons regarding the nature of consciousness and the dangers of mind transference.

Whether about what exactly is going on in this place or the questionable morality of the story and your choices within it, the game really makes you think. One of the things I liked most about it was all the times you’re forced into making some pretty deep and dark moral decisions. Again, I don’t want to spoil any of the big ones, so I’ll just give an example of a lesser, optional choice like this. Here, you find a broken down robot that’s been sitting on the ocean floor for who knows how long. They are supposedly the victim of a mind transfer gone wrong and seem to be doomed to be trapped in that spot, just rolling around and going increasingly crazy for eternity. I chose to pull her plug out and watch her die, perhaps to do her a favor and put her out of her inevitable misery, but honestly, no, I just didn’t like her stupid Johnny 5 face and like to play games like a complete psychopath when I can, BECAUSE IT’S FUN!!!

To help further sell the already excellent story, there is the typically excellent Frictional atmosphere, enhanced by some really impressive graphics and sound (seriously, play this with headphones or a serious surround sound system or don’t play it at all!). The level of detail really helps immerse you and makes it genuinely nerve-wracking when some deadly creature appears and starts stalking you.

They aren’t always completely deadly though. Sometimes they just wound you and you’ll be stuck with impaired vision and movement until you heal, and you can only heal by using up structure gel nodes that you find embedded in the scenery, but this causes the electrical systems it was attached to to short out, which makes all the lights in the nearby area go out. Yes, the more you heal, the darker it gets. What a great system (seriously!).

The puzzles and enemy escapes are very well done and very organic feeling, while also being just intuitive enough that you will be able to solve them without help with a little thinking and tinkering, despite typically being given very little to no assistance in figuring out what to do.

So basically, it’s a fucking awesome game all around. This is an absolute must-play for anyone into horror games. Frictional Games just keeps getting better and better each time and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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