SOMA is what it’s like when its done properly.
The dark, dank atmosphere and overall persistent sense of foreboding and anxiety are so well done that it is very easy to hand your psyche over to the game, to place you directly under its spell.
For the first few hours of gametime, I kept on wanting to compare it to Alien:Isolation. Both games share a few of the same user-defined tags ala “Horror”, “Sci-Fi” “Atmosphere”. And both games fulfill these same roles very, very well.
But the further I progressed in SOMA the more it diverged from Alien:Isolation.
Where Alien:Isolation is instinctive and deathly tense, SOMA takes a more cerebral approach. Where the basic premise of A:I is ‘survive. get out.’, SOMA digs in like a philosophical tick. Both games are without a doubt engaging, but SOMA possess far more lasting power than A:I.
Progress in SOMA finds the player moving deeper and deeper. Deeper in the physical sense of its oceanic setting, and deeper in the sense of its philosophical queries. It is a game whose narrative works at multiple levels of meaning. Taking a step back to ask oneself “What do you think?” has a magnitude of implications – Perhaps, maddeningly, horrifically so.
SOMA is no slim fable. Measured benchmarks in progress may answer one question but will blast open another pressure lock, flooding the player with more inquiries and dilemmas. Player engagement is nurtured by posing meaningful questions about the self, intelligence, happiness, ignorance. And the way SOMA twists these themes in and out of each other is incredible.
I look forward to completing the journey this weekend. With the way the game has presented itself thus far, I am anticipating a conclusion that will blow what I think is my mind out of the back of what I think is my skull.
What are you playing this weekend?