Review: SOMA (PC)
Intro and Gameplay
I'll admit straight out, I'm a total sucker for anything Frictional Games. I relish in the geeky goodness that is a developer who can not only mold fantastic stories but can convey the emotion and creepiness of said story through audiovisual means that really get under your skin. I'll also admit that I am not a huge horror fan. Wait.. WHAT?! Yeah, while it may seem like the world's biggest contradiction, that is what is so unique about Frictional. They really seem to be able to balance these attributes and really what it comes down to is that they make amazing gaming experiences. So, with SOMA, my expectations were high but also in check. In the first 30 minutes of the game, I honestly, was a bit frustrated. "What IS this even about?!" I kept thinking and the fleeting thought came that maybe they had missed the mark. The fears and thoughts were very quickly put to rest as, without spoiling any of the fun or surprise, things quickly kick into gear. With tons of action, blood, and explosions?! Nope. With a slow, creeping feeling of dread, mystery and wonder. Your interaction with the environment is bare none some of the best I've ever seen. Reading through emails, pulling levers, and interacting with characters doesn't "feel" like a game. It feels like a real, though terrible experience. This is an incredible adventure and honestly, all sorts of elements combine near perfect to craft such a trip down.. insanity perhaps? It's up to you to figure it out but gameplay and story wise, this shouldn't be missed. By anyone. It takes a lot to impress us these days but SOMA has done it in spades. You will be enthralled. You will be scared. You will not forget this story.
Graphics and Sound
As I mentioned before, Frictional has a unique way of molding the graphical parts of their stories and weaving webs that aren't mind blowingly gorgeous but oh, they are beautiful.. usually in a grotesque sort of way. I will say with SOMA, they have definitely reached near AAA status of some of the bigger studios and the worlds crafted here are a sight to behold. Don't believe us? Check out our full 4K gallery below. While we couldn't test the PS4 version, the PC version is absolutely stunning in 4k. I was taking screenshots every few seconds, literally, because I was blown away by what I was seeing. Most of the areas you visit are dark, steamy and sometimes hard to make out but that all contributes to the experience. Apart from the technical and artistic wizardry on display here is the effects. Smoke, fog, steam and especially sparks, blips and other wonders are absolutely stunning. That's right, this is a graphical powerhouse but it all fits perfectly into the context and story present.
It's very rare that the audio portion of the game can truly match or exceed the graphics and art. SOMA is a title that truly excels in everything sonic. It's supersonic. Ok, that was cheesy. It really is though. I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU to play this game cranked on a beefy surround system or better yet, int he dark with a killer set of headphones. Everything, yes, everything is near perfect. Just picking up an old box, throwing it randomly sounds perfect. Music, effects and especially voice acting is top notch. I have to mention, with a huge shoutout, your main character and most of the voice recordings are some of the best I've ever heard. It is truly rare to have something so well done that you feel like part of the story and game, not just playing it. If that doesn't make any sense, play Call of Duty and then play SOMA. Two totally different experiences. Either way, the audiovisual aspects of SOMA deserves all the awards and praises we can sing.
Should You Play?
Well, I've gushed on about this game without even telling you a single thing about the context, actual story, or even what happens. That is definitely on purpose as you need to experience this for yourself. Is it for everyone? Definitely not but if you are a gamer, you deserve to have this experience. More importantly, these developers could have easily charged a full $60 for this game but instead, they went half and they deserve your full support. In a market of copycats, clones, and yearly recycled trash that is being sold for that full retail price, SOMA is the experience that I have been longing for and it's all at a bargain price. No really, there are hundreds of good games out there right now with more around the corner but this is the one, if any, you should be playing. Buy it, play it, love it, remember it... not that you'll really have that choice days after those credits roll. This is gaming at its finest peeps, don't miss it!
I didn't know quite what to expect when I started peeling the initial layers off of SOMA. While past games from Frictional threw you right into the narrative, SOMA gets under your skin, slowly, subtley and even deeper. Everything about the game screams quality and the TLC that developers who care about their craft can convery. Graphics, sound, and voice acting all come together near perfectly. This all ends up being an incredibly polished experience that I can't recommend enough. Games that are this unique, this haunting and not to mention, an incredible value, deserves our highest score. Perfect? No, but incredibly close.