SOMA has just been announced as one of the monthly free games available for PS Plus subscribers (December 2018), and this feels like the perfect time take a look at what the game has to offer. The game is not only available for the PlayStation 4, however, and also has compatibility with Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, and Linux.
Developed by Frictional Games (the same developers as Amnesia and Penumbra), this horror game has good stock and is bound to have plenty to offer. With that in mind, here is our SOMA game review.
What is SOMA?
SOMA is a science fiction survival horror game that was initially released in 2015 by Frictional Games. The game is set in an underwater research facility called PATHOS-II, which contains advanced AI that have taken on human characteristics and traits. PATHOS-II becomes the last place to host humanity after a meteor destroyed the Earth and led to a mass extinction event.
The player plays as Simon Jarrett, who has agreed to various brain experiments following a car crash in Toronto and is a patient of Dr Munshi, a York University graduate student. Simon awakes in the year 2104 and soon realises that he is the only surviving human following the obliteration of the earth by the comet’s impact.
Whilst in the underwater facility, Simon remotely contacts a character named Catherine Chun, who asks Simon to come and find her at Site Lambda. On his journey to find Catherine, Simon encounters various robots, both friendly and hostile, and has to solve various puzzles to progress throughout the underwater facility. The story has many twists and turns and focusses on the player’s quest to aid Catherine in her workings on the ARK project – a digital world powered by a supercomputer that has the intention of prolonging humanity.
This survival horror game is played from a first-person perspective and uses psychological horror as a key component of its gameplay. Enemies come in various forms and there is an array of different creatures that each serves as a representation of the game’s themes.
As with most previous titles by Frictional Games, SOMA does not have a combat system and the player must progress through the game by solving puzzles and using stealth to avoid enemy creatures.
During the game, the player will find clues scattered throughout the PATHOS-II facility in the form of notes and audio tapes. Each clue provides information about the plot and allows the player to advance further in the game.
The graphics for SOMA are sufficient, but can not really be ascribed any adjective greater than ‘good’. Luckily, this does not impede the game’s ability to create suspense throughout the story, and having top-of-the-range visuals is not essential to delivering the main themes and concepts of the plot.
The game does still have some high-resolution textured objects which really come to life when you interact with them (and you can interact with a lot of objects), and this does wonders for the enhancing the immersion of the gameplay.
As with Insomnia, lighting plays a big part in setting the mood of the environment and does a great job in creating tension and fear in the player. The underwater settings are particularly impressive visually, and really make you feel like you are there hanging out with the robots and the creatures. Yet, one visual feature that left me with a slight headache was the rather generous use of chromatic aberration, this is used as a caution for nearby enemies so is quite useful, though it can eventually become tiring on the player’s eyes.
The sounds in the game make up a big part of how the game delivers its suspense. From breathing in your underwater suit to the slight movement of enemy creatures, every sound can have you on edge. This will keep you focussed and concentrated throughout the game, and will most likely lead to greater immersion and greater scares.
The background music is atmospheric without being overbearing. Its lack of purpose seems intentional and allows the player to direct their attention not other in-game sounds they may be more useful to the player.
The voice acting in the game is at a top level and the characters become more realistic with a natural speaking tone with nothing feeling forced or overdone. The same applies to the AI in the game who are voiced in an appropriately robotic manner.
Perhaps the main pull factor for this game is its story. As horror games go, SOMA is up there with the best for its plotline. The game takes you on an emotional journey that will make you ask questions about yourself and of the world around you. Without giving too much away, the game tackles philosophical and psychological issues that you can take away with you into reality.
SOMA is the most enjoyable survival horror title I have played in years and this is largely down to its thought-provoking story, but also because of its ability to create an appropriate level of suspense with creative sound and visuals.
Despite most of the voice acting being of a high quality. Some criticism has been aimed at the lack of diversity in the speaking voice of the protagonist, Simon Jarrett.
Other criticisms of the game have been levelled at the pacing of the storyline and the length of the game.
SOMA Free Download
If you are a PlayStation Plus subscriber you can follow here for a SOMA free download link in the month of December.
If you are not a PC gamer, you can buy SOMA on Steam here.
Games Like SOMA
If you are a fan of survival horror games, here are some other games like SOMA that you may enjoy.
- Outlast 2
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We hope you enjoyed our SOMA game review and, if you did, you might like our article on the best Japanese horror games ever made.
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Richard, Blog of Games