• James Harvey

Game Review - SOMA - Frictional Games - 2015

Video Game Review - SOMA - Frictional Games - 2015

As you know if you're reading my blogs, I love Folk music and Horror stuff, but on top of that, I’ve a huge passion for games. From PC, console, mobile, board, table top to paper RPG’s, I love gaming. So, I thought I would tackle a review for a video game. I picked, for no real reason, the game, SOMA, on PC. My PC specs will be at the bottom for you to view if you want to, as well as the specs needed to play the game.

So, to kick things off, SOMA is a first-person exploration horror game by the horror game veterans, Frictional Games. Without giving to much away, you play as Simon Jarrett and after a brief intro, you begin in an underwater lab with no idea of how you got there or indeed why you are there.

There are two ways to play this game, as intended or with the Safe Mode setting, which allows you to explore without the whole hide and seek parts. I say hide and seek as you cannot attack the monsters, you can only hide and sneak your way past, while they wander around seeking you out.

I played the game twice, first with the monsters eating my face, then without and I must say the game was better without, both story wise and horror wise. I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, lets go back. In SOMA, you, as Simon, make your way through an underwater facility named PATHOS - II and slowly piece together not only how and why you are there, but also what happened to the scientists that once populated said facility. As well as what has happened to the world in general.

Using nothing more than your hands (and the occasional tool) to pull open doors, push switches and poke in the dark corners of PATHOS - II, you slowly start to understand what is going on. While doing this, creatures that are mashed together from a mix of organic and machine parts, appear to haunt the corridors; and your dreams. Your first few encounters are good, scary in fact, even looking at the creature causes the screen to glitch out and the sound of your heart drumming faster and faster pounds out your speakers, it really makes you sweat. These hideous ‘things’ bark out sounds and words which with some incredible sound design, sound as eroded and twisted as the creatures themselves. Sadly however, this gets to the point of eye rolling, ‘oh ffs, not another one’ around midpoint in the game, or at least it did for me.

Taking away from the story and the overall feel of the environment you are exploring they act as nothing more than an annoyance, as you try to sneak past them, they kill you, you reloaded wounded, then they kill you some more and you reload back to the last checkpoint. After the first one or two they really do jar you away from the horror and, for me at least, make you want just to rush past this point of the game and get on with the story. Enter safe mode, now those annoying deaths stop happening. The said monsters no long feel the need to eat your face and annoy your thoughts.

Does this ruin the game? In my opinion, no, it does not. You see I think the secret to SOMA and most good horror stories, is how much it relies on your imagination to augment it. Combine that with some excellent environments, lighting, sound with twists you just don’t see coming and you have one scary, tension driven story.

From the abandoned claustrophobic corridors, through rooms of rusting metal and chaotic mess with weird black goo dripping down the walls onto the open ocean floor, to the distant flicker from strange shadows that move both high above you and between the rocks that cover the surrounding seabed, the SOMA, atmosphere is a character in itself. Add to this some excellent writing, and the result is a constant sense of dread; a primordial fear of the unknown that keeps you company all the way to the chilling conclusion.

SOMA is at its best when it feeds you with little nuggets of story and allows you to form the bigger picture in your mind. For horror fans this is a great way into the horror genre in video games or for those of us horror fans who already enjoy the genre, SOMA is well worth your time and it will surprise you with the tales it has to tell.

I picked up my copy on Steam, you can get it also on The Humble Store, gog.com and the Mac App Store. The game is also out on Xbox & PS4. For more information have a look at the official site here.


Minimum Recommended

OS: 64-bit Vista 64-bit Wins 7

Processor: Intel Core i3/ AMD A6 2.4Ghz Intel Core i5/ AMD FX 2.4Ghz

Memory: 4GB RAM 8 GB RAM

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480

AMD Radeon HD 5750. OpenGL 3.3 AMD Radeon HD 5970. OpenGL 3.3

Storage: 25 GB Available Space 25 GB Available Space

Additions Notes: Integrated Intel graphics are not supported. They should work (Intel HD 4000-series or better), but with issues.


OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit

Processor: Intel Core i7-5930K 3.50Ghz (12 CPUs)

Memory: 32GB RAM

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X 28GHz

Sound: Sound Blaster Z

Storage: Samsung 860 EVO SSD

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