REVIEW – Frictional Games has proven to us multiple times that in terms of horror games they are the best. It is just enough to mention the 2007 release of Penumbra or the sequel that was released in 2008, which allowed players to truly feel how isolation can wreck the nerves. These titles did not give us the opportunity to – and even if there was it was tiny – to retaliate against the deadly creatures in any shape or form.
Not much was changed for the formula once the Penumbra series has ended, Frictional Games just streamlined, and made a few tweaks to the system. Which in turn brought us Amnesia – The Dark Descent, which was a huge success both in terms of sales and review scores. The game sucked in the players, and gave them a cold shower of pure dread, scares, that left a mark in many of the players.
As the formula for Penumbra and Amnesia games were a success at the box office, Amnesia got a sequel called Machine for Pigs, which also had a lot of scare factor just like the previous game. Even though the sequel was successful it was not as well received. Still Frictional was able to pinpoint their success, and create great horror games.
Two years have passed since their last game, and it is high time that Frictional Games release something that shakes up the concept that has been with us for the last five games. That is why SOMA has been developed, which provides us with the usual dread, and isolation, and mixes it up with a world of Science Fiction, where we have to figure out the mystery, and where we are totally defenseless against the enemy.
Frictional Games realized after the first Penumbra game, what are the strengths of the horror genre, and how they can be uplifted from generic horror games. That is none other than fear itself. A lot of horror games only trick us, and do a few jump scares. These developers forgot about the truth of Hitchcock: It does not matter how much we scare the person in a movie/game if after the end of the product there will be no effect on the viewer/player.
Based on this Frictional Games created their games, and raised them from simple indie developers to one of the big leagues when it came to horror games. However they did not idle around, as they created five games in five years. Now here is their newest game that takes place int he future, which evolves the basic concept, and perfects it.
Our story this time takes us to the underwater depths, where the seemingly „harmless” enemies will wish for our death, for every waking minute. We try to stay alive and get to the bottom of this weird story. The emphasis is of course also on the gameplay again, and on the creeping terror that lurks underwater. I would not recommend this game to the faint of heart, as SOMA is a really terrifying game! We never know when the enemies will try to confront us. If they see us, then we’ll try to hide and pray that nothing goes wrong, or we’ll have to restart our previous save.
The game’s visual style is great, but it was not too special. Everything is where it should be, and we get the same type of design as to say if it was Alien Isolation. The lighting looks great, the particle effects were okay (did not throw away my mind because of them), but it still brings a high quality to the game. The atmosphere is dependent on how the graphics perform, and the HPL Engine is able to properly visualize to us what the developers wanted. Silent half dimness, darkness rising, and lights playing in front of us. It really heightened the fear in us, and gave us shivers, especially not just because of the visuals but because of the sounds too.
In order to fully experience SOMA it is best recommended to play it with a headset. The sounds, especially the constant machine „murmuring” can be heard from the distance. These sound effects sometimes overwhelm the most hardened player. No matter what anyone tells me, Frictional Games’ games have always been carried by their atmosphere, and not the graphics or – usually very good – gameplay.
The game’s biggest positive is the atmosphere, which is strengthened by the gameplay, graphics, and sounds. Frictional Games have been slowly sending all of their player into madness, and with SOMA nothing has changed. Every waking moment in the game is worth an entire horror movie, and the braver ones will not even stop after the most horrifying parts. While uncovering the story the players will feel so many different things, and be dreaded by the new found things. If the gaming journalists were full of young people all of them would be scared out of their pants.
– Cool gameplay
– It’s really scary
– Ambiance is top notch
– Few novelty
– Few bugs, but they are annoying
– Some puzzles are too difficult
Publisher: Frictional Games
Developer: Frictional Games
Publication: August 22nd, 2015