Game review on PlayStation 4
Sam Heatley / Sat 14th Nov 2015
415 views / 12 bites
OVERVIEW One of the best psychological horrors of the year, Soma will plague players long after the credits roll.
Deep in the boundless depths of the ocean lies PATHOS-2, an underwater research facility in a state of disrepair. After a comet destroyed all civilisation in the year 2103, the facility now stands (or sinks...) as humanities last refuge. Simon Jarret (the main protagonist) wakes in this horror after being preserved for nearly 100 years during a blackout brain scan in 2015.
While navigating the facility, Simon encounters various robots that believe themselves to be human. From these encounters, Simon begins to question everything as the truth of his fate and those of PATHOS-2 sinks in.
Simon's uncertainty about where he is and his search for answers drives the considerably tense story. Most of it has to be pieced together from items found since there are no humans left to question.
The only interaction Simon has is with the robots, which will force the player into a fascinating moral dilemma. These decisions raise important philosophical questions and make Soma a more intense and engaging game.
While the execution of the story is excellent, the gameplay has room for improvement. Most time is spent exploring and solving relatively straightforward puzzles.
However the game doesn't hold your hand, which makes it much more satisfying when you figure out what needs to be done on your own. Upon exploring desolate sections of the facility, you'll also encounter openly hostile and terrifying robots.
To progress through the game, you'll have to learn how to avoid them. Thankfully, checkpoints are never too far and you're not punished harshly for mistakes.
Every game has its dull moments and Soma missed the opportunity to cause more anxiety while exploring the sea floor between stations. The lack of direction can be overwhelming initially and neither the environment nor enemies drive any sense of urgency to reach your destination.
Inside the stations, more pressure from the eerie monsters would have been welcomed since they are easily avoided once you understand their patterns.
One of the unusual aspects of Soma is a colour distortion effect that changes what Simon sees based on his health. This can be fixed by finding one of the health stations spread out all across the station or the feature can simply be disabled for those unable to handle it.
Soma may have less-than-stellar graphics but there is a great attention to details in the environment and almost all items can be handled in some way. The PlayStation 4 version suffers from minor pauses while auto-saving, which can become annoying when save points are close together. The only other problem suffered during play was from a cut scene freeze.
Sound is a key part of SOMA since it emphasises on how the monsters detect Simon's movements. Running frantically down a hall or knocking something over is scrutinised harshly in SOMA.
The robot's shrieks and murmurings will definitely keep you on edge as you decide if it's safe to move or not. Music plays a subtle role, becoming noticeable in dramatic moments, allowing you to focus on the moment and the desperate situation around you.
Soma is a unique experience that is carried by a fantastic story. However, certain gameplay elements lack the intensity to move the story forward at a reasonable pace.
The game shines in the originality of its creature design and the delivery of its scares. It may be short at ten hours, but the true horror will start to set in when the credits roll and you are left to contemplate the questions left unanswered.
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