Monday, October 5, 2015

Scary Game (Spectator) Review: SOMA

By James Paradie (aka Scared Sheetless)

Frictional is the developer behind Amnesia: The Dark Descent and the Penumbra series. After Amnesia was released and blew everyone away, people wondered what was next for Frictional Games? Their answer: SOMA. SOMA is Frictional Games latest psychological horror in their impressive arsenal of games.

We got our first glimpse of SOMA in a 2013 gameplay trailer. Check it out.

Is it just me or does the guy sound like Matthew Broderick?

Watching the full game and re-watching it, I can see there are plenty of differences between the reveal trailer and the final product. Of course this is the case with just about every game that has or will ever be conceived. I'm happy with what they went with, although I also don't think this looks bad either. The trailer did intrigue me, but what stunk is that we had to wait another two years before we got something.

About the Game: 

You play as Simon, a man who was recently in a tragic car accident that leaves him brain damage. It also kills his girlfriend, Ashley. Simon meets a "doctor" who can help him by scanning his brain and moving it to a new body. Because of the severe brain damage, as well as cranial bleeding is killing him, he is left with no choice. "Dr." Munshi scans Simon's brain, but during the scan, the screen that Simon is watching blacks out. He hollers if something's gone wrong. He manages to take the scanner off his head and he is no longer in Toronto.

You can see the first twenty minutes of the game (what I just described above) in this video below. Courtesy of Harshly Critical.

But where did Simon go? 

Oh, how about at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Now, that's odd, but this is Frictional Games, let's stack it up a bit: he's at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, one hundred years into the future. What?! That was my reaction. Oh, well, actually that's not it! Yeah. He's at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, one hundred years into the future, and the Earth has been destroyed by a massive comet. What the hell?! It's STILL not the whole story, but I'm not one for giving away too much, unless the game has been out for a while. In this case, it just came out, so I'm going to keep my lips sealed.

What Did I Think of the Game?

Excellent. Surprise, surprise coming from the guy who kisses Amnesia's ass when he get's the chance. I know, but I really do think this game was great. Before the game was released, a lot of game websites were saying this game is like the first Bioshock meets Amnesia: The Dark Descent. But to me, it was like Bioshock meets Alien: Isolation meets Amnesia. Some sites, like Polygon, even went as far saying that this game is better than Bioshock. Hey, that's their opinion, but I think the only thing SOMA and Bioshock have in common is it took place at the bottom of the ocean.

Was it all out scary? Actually, no. But when it was scary, it was downright frightening. It wasn't all Amnesia, it isn't Amnesia 2.0 like a lot of people (myself included) were expecting. But it's a solid game with a terrific story. Is it better than Amensia? In some categories, yes, actually. Story wise, definitely. Emotional depth? You bet! Scare wise? That's a toughie. I wanna say I was more scared while watching Amnesia. That's not to say SOMA got scary, because it did. I will be posting a part of what I felt was the scariest moment in the game later in this review.

I loved the ending. I really think it was fitting, especially for Frictional. I'm not going to say what happens, but it's great. But is it great in a nice way? You'll have to find out for yourself.

Voice acting was great in this game. There's a lot more talking in this than in Amnesia or Penumbra, for that matter. It was definitely different to see Frictional have one its games be a chatterbox. But it's in a good way. All the way around the voice acting was great.

The scenery was terrific. Definitely a sharper looking game than Frictional's previous titles. A lot of it looked smoother. And another reason to marvel about how great this game is is that Frictional Games is a very small developer. Not that big of a team.

Bottom line is Frictional should be proud of what they've accomplished. This game has mostly positive reviews. SOMA 2? I hope not, but if they do, please keep it with Frictional. You don't want another Machine for Pigs debacle, do you?

Nothing else to say, other than it's a great game, with a terrific storyline; beautifully haunting scenery; great voice acting. It's great all around. I don't remember a moment being bored watching it.

But I'm going to end this spectator's review with what I felt was the scariest, heart racing moment of the game. Please note that there may be some spoilers in this video.

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