(“Monday” Blues: On every first Monday(ish) of the month, I’ll recommend a new world – a book, a game, a podcast, etc – to escape into. Or at least to look forward to after a hard day’s work.)
A Game by FrictionalGames
What It Is: A sci-fi horror game where the player scours a mysterious underground laboratory, searching for answers and escape while hiding from monsters.
Why You Should Play It: On its surface, SOMA is somewhat familiar, utilizing the same formula partially pioneered by developer FrictionalGames’ own previous work (including Amnesia: The Dark Descent): explore a strange environment while staying hidden from the invincible threats roaming with you. While the gameplay certainly has moments of raw intensity, it’s perhaps slightly less frightening than its spiritual predecessors in terms of its mechanics. In SOMA, however, the real horror comes from challenging themes, moral choices without easy answers, and the claustrophobia of dark corridor after dark corridor.
While it’s a polished game, it’s a fantastic story. SOMA represents exactly the sort of character-and-theme-driven speculative fiction I savor and strive to create. I finished the game over a week ago and it’s still lingering in my head. In fact, I dreamed about it last night. If that’s not a sign of a worthwhile experience, I’m not sure what is.
I highly recommend SOMA to fans of sci-fi horror, man vs machine narratives, story-driven games in general, or anyone with a taste for a little existential angst.
Set at the bottom of the sea, SOMA goes deeper than most stories dare to in more ways than one.