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Poll: What would you rate SOMA out of 10?
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SOMA Member Review Thread
Fortigurn Offline

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RE: SOMA Member Review Thread

I'm 13 hours in, and I've just entered Omicron. I'm massively impressed with this game, and so glad I pre-ordered.

+ Atmosphere.
+ Puzzles (complexity, variety, frequency).
+ Enemies (variety, activity, relevance to world and narrative; claustrophobic environment makes you work harder for escape, and plan and time your movements with precision).
+ Healing system (very well thought out, took me some time to realise, fits well into the world).
+ Environments (absolutely beautiful with tons of fine level detail, lots of variety, massive immersion if you will pardon the pun).
+ Level design (variety, complexity, size; level design generally fitted the narrative very well).
+ Art and sound direction (gorgeous, nothing more to say).
+ Story (deep, sophisticated, mentally stimulating and challenging).
+ Checkpoints (well placed).
+ Save system (excellent, and no save screens is impressive).
+ Voice acting (the best yet in a Frictional game).
+ Length (I've played for 13 hours and I've only just found the way into Omicron).
+ Pacing (the characteristic Frictional "slow burn" gradually gives way to increasing intensity and tension, which I think is working very well at this stage of the game).

- Lack of regular access to maps (does make navigation of large and complex areas more difficult than it needs to be, and isn't very realistic; I don't need my hand held by a mini-map or radar screen, but an occasional computer terminal or more frequent "map on the wall" with a "You are here" marker would really help).

- Decision making (from the very start the game leads me to believe I will be making serious decisions which will have significant in-game consequences, but the first couple of genuine choices with which I am presented don't actually have obvious consequences, or don't seem to have consequences which make any difference to what happens, they both have the same effect; maybe this will be different later in the game).

Definitely a solid 9 for me so far.

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(This post was last modified: 09-28-2015, 04:08 PM by Fortigurn.)
09-27-2015, 07:50 PM
Paddy™ Offline
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Posts: 1,351
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RE: SOMA Member Review Thread

9/10 for me too. I have a bad habit of text-walling, so I'll just say that Frictional Games & associates have created something truly great, they've accomplished all of their stated goals for the project and they've done the impossible and outshone Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

Congrats to everyone involved.

09-29-2015, 09:05 AM
RMJ Offline

Posts: 68
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RE: SOMA Member Review Thread

Yeah its a shame they seem to have gone to absolutely minimal puzzles. Im not sure what is up with that. Its the same for many point n click adventure games.

I love puzzles going around combining stuff and making makeshift items
09-29-2015, 08:19 PM
A.M Team Offline

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Joined: Sep 2014
RE: SOMA Member Review Thread

I finished SOMA.

Quick review:
A few bugs here and there, a lesser sense of isolation and monster puzzles that are too hard/real puzzles that were too easy are the only minuses I can find in the game. The monster designs are really cool and the way they use the game improves on so many levels from Amnesia (Mainly story, voice acting and sound design) would make this game my third favorite game of all time (1st. Little Big Planet 2, 2nd. Amnesia: TDD, 3rd SOMA, 4rth Far Cry 2 + 3, 5th Garry's Mod).


+ Brilliant opening sequence
+ Huge improvements from Amnesia
+ Memorable monster design and sound design
+ Good Story
+ More feelings than just horror

- Moderately big bugs
- Lesser sense of horror/dread/isolation than in Amnesia
- Rage inducing puzzles
(This post was last modified: 09-30-2015, 08:12 PM by A.M Team.)
09-30-2015, 08:12 PM
mazman34340 Offline
Junior Member

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RE: SOMA Member Review Thread

Outstanding job Frictional Games, OUTSTANDING!

I believe you managed to out-do Amnesia : The Dark Descent. It certainly had a lesser sense of dread and horror but it kept some very terrifying parts (I had four quite terrifying parts in the game). Monster design and atmosphere were excellent in most parts of the game. My most hated monster was that.... goulish thing in the main base.

But what made this game so spectacular was the excellent writing and provocative ideas and decisions. From the...

Spoiler below!
three uses of the quiz provoking players to thing of their situation. Giving the player the choice to slowly watch the last human die. Giving the player the choice to kill themselves... sortof. Genius!

God. My emotions peaked at times to heart pounding terror and genuine sadness. I'm so happy I didn't spoil the game for myself with Youtube videos or anything.

Great job dev's!
(This post was last modified: 10-01-2015, 02:59 AM by mazman34340.)
10-01-2015, 02:54 AM
Omnitool Offline

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RE: SOMA Member Review Thread

Simply put, I find SOMA a masterpiece. The game has a beautifully crafted envirnoment. Each room, each object, "tells" you something, it makes Pathos-II look like a living place, not just a sterile repetitive envirnoment like in all games nowdays but a real, inhabited place. You can go anywhere, acces any computer terminal, pick up any object and turn it on all sides to inspect it. It feels like you, the player, are walking those corridors, hiding from the dangers and looking for answers. A big 10 / 10 for graphics and visual design.
The soundtrack is brilliant, oscar-movie grade sound works! The moment when you power up the geothermal plant, with the music perfectly blending with the envirnomental sound effects...it should get written in the textbooks for any hollywood sound artist! A definite 10 / 10 for the sound.
Level design is brilliant, the maps are intelligently crafted so that you don't walk the same corridors over and over back and fourth for hours. In Alien Isolation for example the level design was used to abusively make the game longer in a repetitive, boring way - don't get me wrong, the game was great overall, at least a 9 - 9.5 / 10, but there was an excessive amount of backtracking, each level had to be walked back and fourth like 5 times, and then revisited again after 2 hours of further gameplay. In SOMA, on the other hand, the level transition is smooth, there is just the right amount of backtracking, each time you discover something interesting. 10 / 10 for level design.
Many people complained that there are not enough enemies, etc. The game has just ENOUGH enemies and could do great with even less! More monsters would just spoil the atmosphere, as the player would be too busy running around aimlessly and hiding from them to properly explore Pathos-II, read all notes and acces all terminals. I would have liked the possibility to permanently lock some of the monsters in a room or section of the base, or use the stun gun on it so I can just go on patiently exploring the rest of that level (that would have come in very handy in the Theta sublevel or at Tau!). The AI is also always homing in on the player position, like it would be playing in noclip mode, seeing through walls, having a GPS detector for Simon and infrared goggles (simply put it's cheating!). It can hear / detect you from 2 kilometres away, from one side of a base to the other, from level 4 to the basment, it can operate complicate door opening mechanisms even when it has no hands and can run like the Road Runner even when they are bulky like a walking refrigirator (are they using a trainer or cheat console??). On the other hand, the monsters are very well designed, genuinly scary and come in all shapes and sizes (I counted over 12 different models), each hinting on its origin. Their visual design and backstory deserves a 10, but AI implementation, the scripted "homing in on the player position" preventing you to properly explore the great envirnoment hardly deserves a 5 unfortunately. Enemy deployment gets an overall 7 / 10 (the AI behaviour could however be corrected by a patch, so it could easily get a full 10!).
Overall gameplay experience was awesome, everything is just as it needed to be, gameplay honestly earns a 10 / 10.
The story is a masterpiece, truly original in every single way and always interesting and surprising with a new turn of events. It definetly deserves a 10 (actually a 12 / 10 it it was possible) The only thing it lacks is more backstory on specific aspects (the WAU, the Ark, the enemies, certain characters like Imogen Reed), and the fact that the story is not impacted at all by player decisions. Hopefully a DLC or movie will come along explaining the "plot holes"...
So my overall score for SOMA is a well deserved 9.9 / 10. It definetly deserves to be the Game of the Year 2015!

The things I think the game needed to be perfect are:
1. Non-cheating AI, or at least the possibility to lock certain enemies in a room or temporarily disable them (using the stun gun on them or laying EMP traps).
2. A classic inventory like in Penumbra and Amnesia, with descriptions for the items and a notebook (could have been something modern like a PDA or tablet) on which Simon could store the text files and audio logs found in the game for further reference and take notes on. Also combining inventory items to create other items or to provide a solution to a problem, like in the previous games, would have been a great idea.
3. Physical puzzles like in Penumbra Black Plague.
4. Making the game a little longer, with more backstory elements to clear everything up.
5. The player choices actually haveing an effect on the plot, multiple endings based on these choices.

I think SOMA was great overall an it certainly is in my top games of all times, along with the Half - Life, Mass Effect, Star Wars KOTOR, Starcraft, Deus Ex, System Shock and Penumbra series! What made all this games so great, what do they have in common? It's simple, STORY! They are story-driven, you play to find out what happened, to uncover the mistery, not just for the sake of frantically shooting and clicking aimlessly (like all the utter crap IOS / Android games and multiplayer FPS / MOBA) without any sort of narrative drive. Arcade games are arcade games, meant for simple interaction and pure fun, while story, immersive games are pieces of visual art equal to any great book or movie.
For me a good story - driven game is just like a good book or movie. It is a way to tell a story, you can tell the story by writing it down as a novel / book, making a comic, making it a theatre play with actors, decors and ligts, making it a movie or making it a game. Videogames like this, that actually tell you a story, make you think about something, arrise some moral and phylosophical questions ARE art, just like any other form of art! The content is the same as in any literature college studied novel or book, it just comes in a multimedia, interactive form to ease immersion in the setting depicted by it.

That is why I love SOMA and Frictional Games, they really know how to tell a story in the form of a videogame. They are simply the best at doing it Wink
(This post was last modified: 10-03-2015, 11:40 AM by Omnitool.)
10-01-2015, 10:34 AM
dhollmusik Offline
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RE: SOMA Member Review Thread

Some good reading in this thread. Soma's an 8/10 for me. As comparison TDD is a 9/10 and BP also 8/10. All high scores in my book so big praise to Frictional!

pros, with cons in bold:

- one of the best stories I've ever played: the kind of story you think about long after finishing, might even be number one. Certainly up there with FFVII and KOTOR. Where FFVII was emotional and KOTOR full of gorgeous lore SOMA was deeply philosophical, and most closely matches my preferred reading matter (hard sci-fi). It was told skillfully, was genuinely mature and ended well...a rare feat.

- masterful atmosphere, especially during the Abyss storm section. The sound design played a huge role too.

- high-quality voice acting: naturalistic and believable. The only issue I had was that a lot of the voices have a too similar tone to each other (light, mid-range, young, American). Practically, it meant I sometimes had trouble making out which character was speaking. Aesthetically, it sometimes sounded monotone (the tone, not the delivery). This varied some more as the game progressed. It's a minor issue.

- puzzles were refreshingly natural and non-repetitive, but this also meant they weren't complex puzzles and they often lacked 'gameplay' elements (compare with the best puzzles from Black Plague & Amnesia). My gf often complained "they should've made it into a movie if they didn't wanna include too much gaming". We're not fans of walking simulators but are avid film watchers. When we play a game, we wanna 'play'.

- the game mostly felt very linear, you could just follow the route, pull the switches and the game would keep pushing you forward. It lacked the sense of freedom-of-movement and tactile control of objects previous FG titles had. Even glass bottles didn't smash when you threw them: a minor detail sure, but part of what diminished the gameplay element.

- the environments, while effective, became a bit samey. Most base-sections looked alike, and the ocean floor areas especially were almost indistinguishable from each other (until the Abyss).

- the monsters' behaviour became annoying rather than terrifying or disturbing. In Amnesia and Black Plague they were a crucial element to the immersion, but in Soma their hostile nature felt forced and ultimately non-essential to the experience. And avoiding them lacked deeper and varied gameplay elements. Halfway-through I went for the WUSS mode: this paid dividends as without the stress of avoiding enemies the experience became more visceral & horrific as you could really imagine yourself in it. Another plus of this mod was you could take a better look at the mutated beings roaming the game: they still follow you around but instead of attacking the way they just hover near you is arguably more unsettling as it's probably more realistic in how a WAU-flavoured cyborg mutant would behave.

Among all those niggles, it's testament to how exceptionally strong the story's execution was that I still score it an 8.

Thomas and co. have indicated that they may go down a more interactive-movie route for the next games. I fear that won't appeal to us. That said FG deserve plaudits (and healthy sales) for SOMA.
07-17-2016, 05:47 PM

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