Sci-Fi Horror Game SOMA Gets New Trailer and Status Update
Alien: Isolation is not the only science-fiction survival horror game currently in development. Frictional Games, the Swedish indie developer behind the critically acclaimed Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Penumbra series, is currently working on a sci-fi survival horror game of its own, entitled SOMA. Today, Frictional Games has posted a new trailer that showcases some of the scenery and voice over work, along with a status update on the PlayStation Blog.
SOMA isn't expected to release until 2015, with the studio about a week away from an alpha version that represents just over half of the full game. Because SOMA is story-driven and doesn't rely on a "core gameplay loop", completion of a playable alpha that actually gives a good sense of the game took a bit longer than it would for some other games. In describing the activities players will partake in, Frictional Games said, "You'll search for notes, solve puzzles, hide from dangers, explore unsettling places, take part in strange events and sometimes just run away. All of these come together with the graphics and soundscape to create a larger whole." Since the atmosphere, narrative, and themes are slowly built up over time, a fairly "large chunk of the game" was required before proper testing could be done. Frictional Games has set five goals for SOMA that it hopes to test and refine through the alpha testing, but before we get to that, here's the new trailer:
The first goal for SOMA is "the feeling of playing a narrative." As I mentioned earlier, SOMA is a story-driven game, so Frictional Games is making sure puzzles never get in the way of the narrative. If you think about the earlier Tomb Raider games, where you find a tomb and you know you're in a "puzzle section," Frictional Games wants to avoid that.
The second goal is "a coherently crafted world." By that, Frictional Games means that SOMA must be steeped in some sense of reality. Unlike Amnesia, where you had supernatural occurrences that could just be explained by "magic," the studio is trying to build SOMA as "proper sci-fi." This means things like realistic technology, sensible puzzles, etc.
The third goal is "gameplay with plenty of variation." Frictional Games wants players to focus on how the game looks, sounds, and feels rather than figuring out some underlying design. This means that the studio will attempt to "keep things fresh and avoid repeating [itself]." Since it's a survival horror game, players can't become too comfortable.
The fourth goal is "deep, disturbing themes that make you think." SOMA isn't simply about scaring you, but rather making you question "what it means to be a sentient being." Frictional Games doesn't want to tell you how to think, but allow you to draw your own conclusions.
Lastly, the fifth goal is "a pervasive sense of horror." SOMA isn't simply about providing a few scares here and there, with Frictional Games instead wanting "this blanket of oppression and fear wrapped around the entire experience." As I said before, players should never feel too comfortable, and the studio certainly doesn't want players to ever be able to "predict upcoming events" because it happened to repeat some pattern too often.
SOMA is coming to PC and PlayStation 4, but "is still a year or so away from its 2015 release." Frictional Games does promise "to reveal a big secret about SOMA" soon though.