New SOMA PS4 teaser trailer
Last October Frictional Games, the creators of Amnesia: A Dark Descent, announced that their new game SOMA would be coming to PS4. Embedded above you can see a new teaser trailer for the game demonstrating the general atmosphere of the game as well as some story bits.
SOMA is about a week away from reaching alpha with about half of the game playable. Frictional Games is aiming for the full game to take around eight hours to complete from start to finish. Included in the update are five goals that Frictional Games have set out to meet with SOMA.
Goal 1: The feeling of playing a narrative
It’s important that SOMA is constantly drenching the player in storytelling. We need to make sure there is always a red thread of narrative running through the game. We don’t want you to say “Oh, here comes a puzzle section”, but to constantly feel as if you are being told an interactive story. Getting this right is tricky as there still needs to be some challenge in progressing, but not so much that solving a difficult puzzle becomes your sole focus. Now that we’re close to alpha it’s possible for us to test this and tweak where needed.
Goal 2: A coherently crafted world
When creating Amnesia our setting was basically just “Old castle where supernatural stuff happens”. This allowed us to get away with just about anything and explain it with “because, magic”. But in SOMA we are building a world that is supposed to be tied into the real world and to make sense. Our goal here is to make proper sci-fi and not just a magical fantasy with futuristic designs.
This raises a whole load of issues that we might not have cared about in Amnesia. Puzzles that don’t make sense in the world, tech levels that vary throughout the game, basic physics principles that are broken and so forth. When you have a large part of the game playable a lot of these become visible, and we intend to squash them all!
Goal 3: Gameplay with plenty of variation
As mentioned above, SOMA does not rely on a core gameplay loop. There is a very good reason for this: we don’t want the player to become too fixated on figuring out the game’s underlying abstract systems. We want players to approach the game from how it looks, sounds and feels. In order for this to work the game’s different scenes can’t have the same setup, as that would make you familiar with how everything works. Instead, we need to keep things fresh and avoid repeating ourselves.
Now that we are in alpha we can more easily identify patterns and similarities in scenarios. If anything overstays its welcome it needs to be replaced by something else.
Goal 4: Deep, disturbing themes that make you think
A crucial design goal for us is to allow a deep exploration of what it means to be a sentient being. The first step towards doing this is to make sure that SOMA’s gameplay, plot, characters and setting reflect the subjects we want to discuss. If you approach the game in the right way, some seriously unsettling implications should be become clear.
And here lies the problem. Are we getting through to you in the right way? Will the really interesting details just rush past you, or will you stop and give them some serious consideration? What’s crucial here is that we don’t simply spell everything out for you, but that you can come to conclusions on your own. These sorts of things take a while to come together, and it’s not until this alpha that we’ll get a clear idea as to how it is working out.
Goal 5: A pervasive sense of horror
Finally, the game should be utterly terrifying. We do not want you to calmly stroll through the various environments; it must be emotionally tasking to progress. We want this blanket of oppression and fear wrapped around the entire experience. Sustaining this through eight or so hours takes some finesse – if we repeat something too often, you’ll get used to it and be able to predict upcoming events. The buildup must take time without becoming dull, and there needs to be a nice rhythm of ups and downs throughout the journey.
All of these are things that we’ve had a hard time getting a grip on until now. Now we can playtest a complete experience. A task that requires a dark room, a pair of headphones, an empty house and a tired, slightly hallucinating developer. You can’t leave this up to reports from your playtesters, you must experience the atmosphere firsthand to truly understand it.
SOMA is scheduled to launch on the PS4 sometime next year.
[Source: US PlayStation Blog]