Soma

 
soma.jpg

By Frictional Games and the creators of Amnesia

The Breakdown

We start strong with a car crash and the death of a loved one. Simon Jarrett awakens to a studio apartment. We are in first person view and the apartment is very detailed and interactive. You can move with almost everything, with the exception of large furniture. Simon has volunteered for an experimental brain scan. We get most of our exposition comes from phone calls, voicemails, notes, and emails.

We make it to the medical facility where David Munshi is a student at York University and is working on reversing brain damage. He needs a brain scan to do this. We experience a moment of static and then blackness and confusion. We flip on the lights to a dark, steal chamber surrounded by steaming pipes and advanced technology, much like a submarine or spaceship. We explore more of the facility to find it abandoned and covered in black ooze and glowing vines.

Upsilon

The first body we find seems torn apart with black vines, with blue, glowing bumps and black ooze starting to take it over. There is little to no music, so the sound of metal creaking and technology whirring sets you on edge.  We see moving lights in the distance, but they do not appear friendly, so best not investigated. We collect a device called an omni tool, for doors and terminals, and we move on.

We discover we are in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a beautiful sea scape with life moving past the glass view of the water. We then come across… what can only be described as a pulsating, glowing, organic, robo, asshole. Your character decides to touch it. We see a flash of light, but nothing happens, but we discover the black goo is called structure gel . Then we come across a robot plugged into one of the robo buttholes. The only means of moving forward is to unplug the robot, suggesting the butthole is a power source, but upon disconnecting it the robot starts breathing heavily and says “No, I need it. I was Happy.”

We get a radio signal from Site Lambda and discover we are in Site Upsilon. We are told to go to the com center. This is where we run into our first monster. It is another example of organic technology with many big, glowing, eyes, like the vines. If it get to close, your vision becomes static. Once you get passed him you come across another robot hooked up to buttholes. He calls to you saying his name is Carl. He doesn’t seem to understand what he is. If you flip the switch to the far left, he will start screaming in agony. You can flip it again to stop, or unplug him. This decision does not affect the ending, but it will affect how you sleep at night. You find Carl’s, human, body further down the hall.

We get to the com center where we talk to Catherine again. She tells you to head to Lambda as the building collapses around you and fills with water. You discover you are breathing and as you look at your hands you see that you are wearing a diving suit and a familiar, blue, glowing dots on the suit arms. You move through the ocean and the walk is very surreal and as you look around you see that some of the fish have the blue glow. We see a small robot with rock piled on him. You unearth him and he follows you and helps you enter locked doorways. You might develop an attachment to him, much like a dog.

Shuttle Station

We enter a building with shuttle system and discover that the robo butt gives you health. We come across a woman named Amy connected to a horrifying lung pump made of the vines and structure gel. Amy asks you to get help. You can turn off enough power to use the shuttle and keep Amy alive, or turn it all off and put her out of her misery. After, you can find a log that tells you a comet hit the earth. Pathos II, the underwater facility, can no longer contact the surface assumes the surface is unable to sustain life. While on the Shuttle, you go through a little video of why the Pathos II was built. In short, It was design for an underwater satellite cannon.

Lambda

Once at Lambda, we see something enter a room across the hall and we hear Catherine yelling. She tells you to be quiet and not look. After you escape the monster, you meet Catherine, who is also a robot and informs you that you are a sentient diving suit. You download Catherine into your omni tool and she tells you that she took brain scans from everyone on Pathos II and built a virtual world to launch everyone’s consciousness into space. She also talks about the ‘real’ Catherine and how robot Catherine’s memories only reach up to the brain scan, so she playing catch up on the ARK project.

You go into a shipwreck to find a working escape vessel. You are met with another monster that you cannot look at or your vision will skew. So continues the theme of creatures you have to run from, but cannot look at, but you can’t avoid if you don’t know where they are, adding a unique difficulty to the games. Also, so many eyes. You escape, plug Catherine into the pod, and take off. We discover that the tentacles covering everything are a manifestation of the artificial intelligence on the station known as the WAU. Catherine calls it a cancer, not a persona. You crash, once again, but are helped by the precious gift, round robot.

As you sneak around and find information on the ARK, you come across opinion poles about the ARK and the major theme of the game comes up, what is survival and what is being human? The ARK has a tracker on it and we discover it is in Tau. It could survive thousands of years in space, but only a few decades on earth. Catherine confirms that they could get onto the ARK and Simon carries Catherine towards Tau.

Walking through the ocean is incredible. The plants move and wild life moves around you. It is incredibly detailed and expansive without getting lost. The game is very good at showing you where to go without you just hitting an invisible wall or terrain you cannot traverse.

Delta

Delta is basically a way point for the Zeppelin you are going to ride to Theta. If you enter one of the buildings, you find a blood bath and eyeballs on the floor. You can pick them up. You don’t need to… but you can. The words on the wall suggest the owner of the eyes ripped them out from insanity. It is suggested that his corpse is in the locker. Another one of the building has a corpse you can get information from. Akers, is injecting people with something and killed Evans. There is so much you can find if you like to explore, read, and listen. You do not, however, have to explore and the world to understand the story or to move along.

Catherine, connected to the zeppelin, tells us that we need a new tool chip. You grab a stun baton and you might have the option to knock out your tiny round buddy, or the sentient robot. I picked the sentient robot. Here we deal with actually being a human consciousness in a robot body and how we are different from the others because we are aware.

Theta

We come across another robot on the outside of Theta. She is confused, but tells us her name is Robin. She got her brain scan and then killed herself. She thinks she is on the ARK and wants to know where everyone is. You can unplug her or leave her.

“When your activated in the ARK, there’s basically two of you. One human, one living scan in the ARK. You don’t want your copy to survive you, you yourself want to survive on the ARK, If the human you dies before the scan is initiated, or closely after, you yourself would live on the ARK. Amazing Right?”

-Robin

Through the story you learned that people slowly started to make there way towards Delta as oxygen and supplies dwindled. The ever changing atmosphere of the games keeps it from getting stale and keeps you from getting comfortable. Not to mention the constant switch from claustrophobia to being vulnerable in wide open spaces.

The Dunbat, sub capable of surviving the pressure in the abyss, is quarantined. While looking for the codes for the Dunbat, find the living quarters, if you like exposition and story, this place is your library. The original theory behind the suicides, is that you have one soul, so if you copy your conscience you have to kill yourself so your soul can go into the ‘you’ in the ARK. In Catherine’s lab, where they take the scans,  you find out that your brain scan was the template for the technology and that’s how you wound up in the system. The first Simon ended up dying a few months later, Simon gives him permission to use the scan saying, “It’s like a part of me lives on.”

We head back to Catherine’s lab to extract a data chip , someone’s brain scan, to find the quarantine code.  We load Brandon Wan into the simulator, but if you pick the wrong simulation he goes insane and the simulation crashes. So, basically, you have to fool Mr. Wan into thinking he made it out of the scan and that he is talking to Alice. You have the option to delete Mr. Won or leave him in the chip. Is he just data and not ‘living’ until the data runs or is he always him and this is a human life?

You finally get back to the Dunbat, but upon being awoken and coming to the realization of what they are, the sub quickly goes insane, starts screaming and blaming Catherine, burns out, and crashes into the abyss. After the terrifying scene of a submarine having an existential crises you and Catherine decide you need to take the climber down the Abyss at omicron. Inside one of the labs, you get scanned and we discover what you are made of. Turns out you are a headless corpse, Imogene Reed, held together by structure gel in a diving suit.

Omicron

We ask Catherine how she is okay with being a box. She says she was never really comfortable being human in the first place, so this experience wasn’t much different. She still feels human, just while being suspended in air. We also ask why the WAU brought Simon here. Catherine thinks that the WAU is still trying to preserve human life. Preserving and creating it’s view on life, which would be similar to itself, a computer, and less what we think, but after constant failure, it struck gold with a mixture of human and machine with a body the mind can comprehend. Also, you can ‘hear the dead’ because of the black box installed in everyone at Pathos II. It’s meant to record vitals to medical personal can treat you.

We discover we have to upload our consciousness into a suit that can withstand the pressure. We find one with the headless corpse of a woman in it, which is already which you are made of. Then, we come across a very cool enemy. You have to move painfully slow past her and very close to her. It sounds like a woman crying, and some of the parts still look human, nut one of her hands is a claw and her head has been completely transformed. If you move slowly enough, you can get a really good look.

After transferring yourself into the other suit, then you realize, you didn’t transfer at all. It was another copy of the scan, and the other suit was the you that made it this far.  You have to decide to kill yourself or leave yourself to wake up alone in omicron. You move on to the crawler where we talk to Catherine about what happens to her when she is unplugged. She talks about how it’s just a constant flow. No time for contemplation. One minute she is there, the next she’s somewhere else. The creature that’s been following you crawls down to you and gets real up close and personal.

Tau

The floor of the abyss is pitch black. You have to go from light to light or risk being torn in have by a giant fish creature infected by the WAU. It makes fun crunching noises. You  enter a cave with horrifying underwater cave spiders. Upon exiting the case, you see a friendly light. IT IS NO A FRIENDLY LIGHT! It is a goddamn angler fish and you take so long to walk towards it that when you finally see it, it takes a minute for you to realize it. I was truly disturbed by this game, but nothing scared me more than that stupid fish. You finally enter Tau and get chased by a zombie dive suit. It walks really strange in kind of a run skip which is freaky as shit. The game got you use to a certain dynamic of the monsters and then hits you with a freaky skippy suit.

We enter the living quarters of tau. You hear the whispers of the creature telling you to hurry and leave. You climb the ladder to the infirmary to find the last living human in the Pathos II, possibly on earth.  She is hooked up to an iv, barely alive, Sarah Lindwall. It turns out they were to afraid of failure to launch it. She gives you the ARK and asks you to kill her. The voice tells you that you are the only thing that can kill the WAU. The new suit you made has a special structure gel meant to poison the WAU. If you do, the WAU and everything connected to it will die, but the WAU could learn and create actual life or fill the surface world with the same horrors as shown below, but what if life could continue without the WAU? Either way, that dudes death is hysterical.

Phi

You plug Catherine back in and you proceed with hooking the ARK up and in the process you find Catherine. The others were worried the ARK wouldn’t make it through the cannon and through the atmosphere. Catherine refused to wait in the struggle she was accidentally killed by a blow to the head.  We go to the seat where we are going to launch the cannon and download ourselves. There is a bit of stress with the download and the launch, but the download is complete and the ARK is launched into space and you realize that it is just like before, a scan, not a transference.

“I can’t keep telling you how it works! You won’t listen!”

Catherine

You panic realizing you are stuck forever and while arguing with Catherine the computer shorts her out and you are left at the bottom of the abyss, alone.

If you wait a little longer you switch to the view of the other Simon, the Simon that made it in the ARK. It’s beautiful, complete and you approach Catherine in paradise.

The Review

Science Fiction Survival Horror

The game introduces the game play and puzzles throughout the first five minutes of the game with simple interaction with the environment.  I like that there is nothing blocking the screen, health bar, map, so on. It is full submersion and it wants you to be the character. It is extremely story driven with lots of detail and exposition if you chose to read. If you don’t want to take the time, you can still follow the story, you just won’t have all of the answers. Even the title menu changes as you go through the story which is startling.

I absolutely love this game. It is stressful in the best way. The background is always active and there is the constant moral dilemma on your mind. No jump scares, just horrifying creatures and the fear of contemplating your existence. It makes you think and keeps you thinking long after the game ends. This game is for people that like story and puzzles with a good coating of terror.

Available on Xbox, PlayStation4, Steam.

 
Jordan Schmidt