So scary, but SOMA-ch fun

I’ve always been a masochist at heart, especially when it comes to consuming horror themed media. In the spirit of the Halloween season, I decided to submit myself to something scary to entertain myself.
I ended up selecting “SOMA” a survival horror game released in 2015 by Frictional Studios. The Swedish developer is best known for its horror series “Amnesia,” which I had played previously and genuinely adored.
In preparation for being ruthlessly tormented for an untold number of hours until I completed the game, I naturally waited until nighttime before I began my run. I turned off the lights, cranked the sound and made sure I had used the washroom to prevent any accidents in the event of a genuinely pants shitting scare.
With a modern PC setup, the game opened smoothly, treating me to a brief loading screen before the menu appeared on my monitor.
The ambiance was clear from the get-go. Both the menu and the prior loading screen were replete with a glitchy aesthetic and a sinister soundtrack of frightening mechanical noises to set the stage as I began a new game.
Here, my first scare caught me. There were only two difficulties. Safe and Normal. Safe mode promised me plenty of scares, but the monstrous attackers throughout the game wouldn’t be able to kill me, leaving me to complete the story.
Normal was much the same, though the antagonists would prove lethal if I was caught. There was a catch, however. There was no restarting unless I reloaded from a previous exit save, the only way to track progress through the game. This meant that if I met an untimely demise, I would have to start from scratch, effectively giving me a single chance to finish the game.
I decided not to be a no-bones jellyfish and promptly selected normal mode, desperately hoping that I wouldn’t regret the decision later.
The introduction was trippy and made little sense, though I got the distinct impression that more details would come to light as the game progressed. Immediately after, I awoke in a bed as Simon Jarrett, the protagonist, who just had a terrible nightmare brought on by a traumatic brain injury.
A streamlined tutorial sequence took me around Simon’s apartment, and then it was off to the PACE clinic for a scheduled brain scan.
Immediately after the tutorial, I saw how far from Kansas I really was. Simon wakes up in a pitch-black examination room with no memory of how he got there. Pure, unadulterated dread settled in when I realized that I was now in a nightmarish industrial maze and not the Toronto clinic I had previously inhabited.
“SOMA” really began to work on me here, relying more on auditory horror and anticipatory dread than easy jump scares or chase scenes. I crept through an abandoned laboratory, jumping at hisses of steam and metallic shrieks, wondering when I would stumble upon something truly unpleasant.
My first objective was a locked door, and I went in search of a special tool that would allow me to open it and progress the story. Halfway through the level, I entered a room filled with half-completed robot bodies hanging from the wall, one of them covered in a menacing looking mechanical infection that was oozing oil onto the floor.
Thankfully, nothing untoward happened and I proceeded, tracing my steps to a sequence in which my vision rapidly glitched out and I heard a glimpse of the past.
Here, things went terribly wrong. When I retraced my steps, the evil looking robot was missing. Suddenly I found myself trapped with a psychotic robot in a small section of the lab with no light source. I freely admit that I shamelessly crawled around like a slug, hiding in corners and generally being a massive baby.
This is where “SOMA” really shone. I never once saw the antagonist in the early stages of the game, and yet I was constantly terrified. Meanwhile, I began to gather audio clips that were fantastically voice-acted, allowing me to piece together snippets of backstory.
Solving puzzles and hunting for clues proved more entertaining than any of the action sequences, and I found that a stealthy approach made the game almost easy, right up until the moment I walked around a corner into an entity that killed me.
That concluded my first run of the game.
I found myself loading up again to give it another try. Given the delightfully terrifying experience I had witnessed in my first attempt, I was determined to make it to the finish so that I could experience the full payoff that “SOMA” delivered.
If you’re looking for something spooky to play this Halloween, I recommend “SOMA” highly. For an older game that rang in at $29.99 on the Epic Store, I was pleased with the experience. Just make sure that you do visit the restroom before you hit play. I may have peed a little when I encountered my biggest scare.