SOMA Game Review

Saturday, September 12, 2015

SOMA is in many respects a test of maturity for the Swedish software house, a title that can handle more carefully the pace of the game and that can scare at the right, leaving the player time to metabolize at least in part with the tension more phases associated with exploration and puzzles then jump again within the dark corridors of PATHOS-2 in search of the way out of a nightmare, but especially the very essence of humanity.

All those who love survival horror will have heard at least once boys Swedish Frictional Games and their work. It was 2010 when this independent team, already known by hardened fans of the genre for the series Penumbra, has become a real reference point for all those who were looking for thrills and productions that they knew really scare too bravest.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent has become in effect a cult and a huge hit with critics and the public itself as a brand of absolute value, so that the announcement of a second chapter, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, was received more than positively and with great enthusiasm. The news that Frictional not have developed the way it would have entrusted The Chinese Room (Dear Esther, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture) left, however, stunned many fans of the software house, and this one was not able to get the same great results The Dark Descent disappointing many fans of the first Amnesia.

Because the Swedish team has developed the sequel of their most successful title? This is the question that filled the minds of most gamers. The answer is, on balance, very simple: to work on a mysterious project that the intent of Thomas Grip and associates arose and aims to revitalize the entire horror genre. SOMA is brought, then, shoulders a not a small burden, to stand out from Amnesia and prove at the same time up to the reputation and expectations surrounding the work targati Frictional Games.

Exploring PATHOS-2 not only we will encounter in hostile creatures but also in particular robot that will put into question the very concept of humanity.

Since the first trailer published it became clear that the direction taken by the developers would be very different compared to Amnesia from setting and themes represented in this new project. Talk about the plot of SOMA without risking running into annoying spoiler is almost impossible, since precisely the narrative segment is a key element of the game, we will discuss in a very superficial and generic narrative that will be with us for about 12 hours of play required to get to the end credits.

PATHOS-2 is a research station that underwater for several days is surrounded by an eerie silence interrupted only by electrostatic discharge of mysterious robotic creatures victims of some kind of twist of fate. Many of these creatures are not, in fact, characterized by a primitive routine behavioral or advanced artificial intelligence, these machines are believed fledged human beings and as such behave. In this twisted world we're going to play as Simon Jarrett, a guy who will try with all their strength to survive the now unstoppable decline that has enveloped the cold corridors of the different sections of the structure.

A premise apparently very simple and all in all not particularly original but will prove to be from the early hours of the game as a front for a plot full of twists and absolutely unpredictable events. Using no cutscenes, but backed by a very good dubbing in English (subtitled in Italian), from interpretations of excellent quality and documents and audio recordings that reveal many details of the game world, the plot of SOMA is becoming interesting, addictive thanks to the issues that are addressed by the title Frictional.

The oceanic environments are an interesting novelty for Frictional Games even if these sections are not always convincing in full.

The ambition of the developers Swedish is, in fact, to combine science fiction concepts and discuss the ethical, philosophical and moral particularly delicate. The main theme of this survival horror is the mystery of awareness and consciousness, we are faced with a title that takes the elements that make an individual feel and a unique person with a soul and distorts them into a vision disturbing and unsettling providing food for thought profound and far from trivial. What is a human being? What traits make this and how you can determine the identity of an individual? These questions will be the key elements of the title and the concepts of identity and self-awareness that will be mentioned will cover, in a sense, an even more important role to avoid monsters and environments to explore.

Because we must not forget that, despite everything, SOMA is in effect a horror title and as such has much of the mechanics introduced by Amnesia: The Dark Descent of course accompanied by some changes and adjustments. Back interaction environment that allows us to collect, rotate, zoom and launch almost every object that will occupy the rooms of Pathos-2 with some elements particularly important in overcoming obstacles or solve certain puzzles.

We will not, only, to explore and to avoid the mysterious creatures that occupy the halls of the underwater station but we also need to solve some puzzles more or less complex. From this point of view we are faced with an offer quite varied, ranging from puzzles solved through a small amount of backtracking to others who require, however, a logical approach or even mathematical. The solutions adopted by the Swedish software house does not always reveal convincing but have the advantage of breaking, in some situations, the uncertain and stealthy advance of Simon and the constant tension that will be with us whenever we enter into a new room or of a new structure.

Even the special ambiance of SOMA allows you to vary the pace of the game as well as inside the station we will also venture on the ocean floor to move between different areas of PATHOS-2. Long and largely empty, especially in the first 3-4 hours of play, these sections are, most likely, the weak point of the whole game experience and we will just walk over to the next door tight to get back into the research station. This is where we have to calculate carefully our pace not to run into dangerous creatures ready to make us the skin.

The monsters you meet are very particular enemy that will be distributed with the dropper and you will find only one or two locations. In many cases it is not clear if the monsters are actually a threat or not: some may seem dangerous but not attack you while others seemingly peaceful could go a lot of damage. Each type of monster (in total six) will also be characterized by the specific characteristics not explained explicitly that will force us to approach even more cautious and careful. Some creatures may even help you to continue in the levels or a word with Simon helping you to understand what happened inside PATHOS-2 or how to overcome some obstacle.

Enemies proposed, despite an artificial intelligence that is not a miracle, have the advantage of making certain sections of the game particularly cumbersome forcing us to grope in the dark desperately looking object need to solve some puzzle or door that we You will reach an area apparently quieter.

This is one of the first enemies you encounter. It will be up to us to understand its behavior and its ability to try and survive.

Before pulling the strings of this new survival weblog Frictional Games and to talk about the natural and inevitable comparisons with Amnesia worth spending a couple of lines on the graphics and the new engine used to own this title. Swedish developers use for the first time the HPL3, a variant of Engine which debuted in 2006 with Penumbra: Overture and which was later modified and used for all games developed by the studio. The steps forward with respect to Amnesia are quite evident especially from the point of view of lighting, an element which in the horror genre has a fundamental role understandably together with the mixer. Beyond the excellent dubbing are noises, interference, the electrical discharges and squeaks of PATHOS-2 to ensure the creation of an atmosphere of great quality and to provide a constant voltage and extremely effective.

Ultimately, SOMA has managed to revitalize the genre itself as a masterpiece for all fans of survival horror? The last work of the team led by Thomas Grip will inevitably turn to Amnesia but in reality we are faced with a title very different and in some ways unique. A narrative level we can only be satisfied by the road taken by the developers and delicate issues dealt with enviable attention, while in terms of gameplay we have to stress the fact that this title can not scare as The Dark Descent but also that this is not It is necessarily a negative element. The fear that reigns in this production is a fear different but no less effective.

Reality is what refuses to disappear even when you stop believing- Philip K. Dick The submarine base of Pathos-II is a giant monster that lies silent in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Dilapidated and forgotten inside the atmosphere is unhealthy, as in a place that hides the truth it would be better to hide forever. Huge cables running along the metal walls, putting in meat torn robotic machinery; others hang from the ceiling, pouring a thick black oil that coagulates in cancerous compounds, there where the wounds of Pathos-II are deeper. It is a gel structure that runs through the entire structure of the base, maintaining stable vital conditions of machinery and robots that time seem to have developed a conscience terribly similar to humans.

We speak with wit, they beg for mercy, suffering and rattle when altered the supply voltage, unplug them when they die painfully. Something has changed forever in there, and it is about to change in you: you will be aware of a catastrophe even bigger than the one that is consumed in Pathos-II, the future tomb of a humanity that is left with the hope of a surrogate. SOMA does not present a short horror made ​​monstrosities repulsive, lucid delusions or sterile sudden fright; instead it puts on stage -limpido example of brilliant science fiction- metaphysical and philosophical questions about the essence of life, leaving the player to think about the validity of compromises difficult to accept.

With SOMA, Frictional Games loosens its grip on horror and pure salt coaster of science fiction; abandons the inspirations Lovecraftian and dives in science fiction pessimistic last three decades of the last century, reworking complex concepts such as identity and the value of individuality. It does so with sensitivity and maturity, mixing the classic narrative to the ambient in a mixture that remains consistent from the unsettling start to the sad and poignant epilogue, in which no shortage of surprises.

When recording sound that you will find in the end of Pathos-II, one of the recurring characters, the protagonist of the project, called Mike Sarang. Sarang is also the name of the lunar mining base of Lunar Industries in which it is set Moon, Duncan Jones film starring a sensational Sam Rockwell. SOMA, as well as making their own tribute to the feature film released in 2009, sharing it with some of the most controversial issues.

Being a title heavily story-driven, it is easy to see the real strength of the entire production is the plot, able to keep the interest with great constancy, to bring down the user before a frightening reality but essential. What initially may seem just an excuse to let yourself down in the silence of the deep, it turns as in an inevitable way to go, in a supposed privilege behind which, however, the hardest of the waivers.

At the center of the story is also an artificial intelligence and ubiquitous indecipherable, violent and malevolent as the darkest of human feelings is gradually taking control of Pathos-II and also manifests itself in the guise of creatures that move in shadow like lost souls. Spreading further details about the plot of SOMA would be unforgivable and criminal, therefore suffice to know that Frictional - at least on this front - hit the mark, demonstrating that the project carried out for five years, not only was more than valid, but also brave and confident completely new ways for the medium to which it belongs.

Also know that it is not a dynamic story, able to mutate or adapt depending on the choices made. During the adventure you'll have the chance to break the lives of disinterested synthetic or totally to the fate of these sentient machines, but it is in any case optional decisions that do not affect the structure of the plot; at most, it happens to see some aesthetic change that remains altogether marginal, given that it has no weight on the dynamics of the game. The script is well written and the pace at which the account is opened and develops is dosed optimally; the same can not be said of the run instead of play, which in places becomes congested and tiring.

The pace is very staid great choice that is well suited to the nature of SOMA , but some stages are less convincing than others because of their dispersion or because it is not easy to understand how to proceed, especially when you have to interact with some found technological utility ambiguous. In a counterpoint to these phases stall there are sections particularly successful set in the depths of the abyss, some of which represent the peak in terms of anxiety generated and artistic inspiration. Even the sound effects give the best of themselves in these sessions, with graphic filters that further blur the view during storms and underwater explosions which abysmal terrify and bring into subjection, while the protagonist's syncopated breath echoes inside the helmet.

Frictional Games has a little 'aside what is the heart of horror so dear to Penumbra and Amnesia, but has certainly not forgotten its roots. The appearances of the enemies here are more rare and less significant enough to be closer to noise than usual in certain areas, which is not as moments of real terror. The monsters you meet are more diverse than previous works of the Swedish team, but in general the design of these opponents terrible lack of audacity and inspiration; It is devoid of words that flash art that he could make a real difference.

Moreover, the slow movements and simple routine behavioral enemies allow circumvention all in all very simple, and if that is not possible because of too narrow corridors, not to disclose its location just more often remain in the shadows focusing his gaze elsewhere. In SOMA must therefore remain crouched and motionless: escape almost always leads to game over, there is no way to face the enemy, nor any safe area in which to take shelter; But the advantage is granted not to die at the first blow suffered, allowing the player to make a few extra attempts again from the exact spot where he was attacked.

It is no secret that SOMA draw liberally from the science fiction of the second half of the last century and some topics covered in part by the genre cinema. If you are interested in the topics proposed by Frictional Games, we recommend watching a couple of movies and reading some novel (assuming you manage to find their Italian versions or you do not have problems with the original material).

So it's not just a facilitation, which minimizes the danger of the creatures and makes them essentially harmless beyond their appearance. It follows, therefore, the clear intention to include an important element of continuity with previous work in the way you have to approach their opponents, but you also know that the developers wanted to move away from a formula now stale to ultimately propose a project more mature, developed and intense, that does not end entirely in the relationship between the player and the monster. Similarly, there are new ways of interaction with the environment, taken weight from old projects.

Although the physical object is very realistic and takes into account the different mass of the materials in an increasingly credible, it must be admitted that the interaction with the elements of the scenario in most cases remains very marginal. The puzzles are challenging and well designed, always adapted intelligently to situations and context of the game: you have to interact frequently with equipment located inside and outside Pathos-II, understanding the operation after a useful attempt to become familiar with the different features. Some of them act as real enigmas barrier and are intertwined with the progress of history; others, however, are variations in sauce futuristic puzzle already seen in countless titles.

Technically, we are at levels good but not exceptional, and there are several fields in which could have been improved, by optimizing the depth of field, up to the resolution. Currently, on Nvidia cards, set 1080p means see the titles of text just above the screen, but Frictional is working closely with the California-based company to solve the remaining problems before launch. On high-end PCs, however, it is almost impossible to attend important drop frame. Despite some trimming, SOMA is a work of great value.

He decided to anesthetize the player with his pace and controlled its strong themes and unusual, between fiction and anticipation of the avant-garde from computational neuroscience. Unlike the works of Tom Jubert (The Swapper, The Talos Principle) which SOMA shares some themes, the story is told without using daring and convoluted speeches metaphysical; on the contrary, the language of science fiction that permeates the entire work overlaps the voice of the common man, displaced from the reality in which he lives and forced to take a narrow passage that requires them to reverse their values ​​and re-evaluate what is left of morality.

SOMA states unequivocally the full maturation of Frictional Games, who lack only big budget to fully express its full potential. Considering the small size of an independent study, and in the process of expansion like this, the results achieved are sometimes stunning. SOMA can not, however, live only a story of a high standard, and must therefore come to terms with some uncertainty and a couple of situations used more as a filler to get to a play time that is around twelve to thirteen hours in total. However, these are problems that after all not be to undermine the overall value of the work, which reveals a small cult of science fiction, which will enrich the medium to which they belong, until now an orphan of securities can treat more than decent arguments the like

Soma is the masculine noun in Sanskrit that means primarily the juice from a plant of sacrificial offering (yajna) in Vedism and the term is sometimes also used to denote the same plant from which it was extracted juice sacrifice. Soma, in the Vedic religion, also indicates the deities connected to the drink and sacrificial object of all 114 hymns of the ninth book (mandala) of the Rigveda. In later hymns of Rigveda, the term refers to the moon, place a receptacle for another drink sacred own gods the Amrta.

In the early hymns of the Rigveda (between 2000 and 1500 BC approximately), the term soma refers to a plant and its juice squeezed, that the singers (RSI) of the Vedas described as a drink that is said to bring health and immortality.

The difficulties of interpretation of the Sanskrit texts and the lack of detailed descriptions of the plant made ​​it difficult to ascertain the real identity of the plant botany.

Descriptions of soma given in religious literature report that the burden was growing in the mountains, and it was a creeping plant, semi-shrub, with stems without leaves, containing a milky juice sour. On the other hand there is evidence in the literature that already old Vedic uniqueness of the plant, probably as a result of migration, has led to the search of alternative plants.

Over the years and in different traditions, between species identified with the pack there were several plants from which you derive intoxicants fermentation as the vine, the Saccharum sp. and Sorghum sp., but the checks carried out on texts rituals show that the burden is not matched a beverage fermented or distilled. Its effects can not therefore be considered as the result of alcohol.

It has also been proposed by other plants containing alkaloids psychotropic effects such as different species of Ephedra, the Cannabis sativa or Syrian rue (Peganum harmala).

According to some authors the burden should instead be identified with some species of the genus Sarcostemma, characterized by a fleshy stem and cloudy (S.acidum, brevistigma S., S. brunonianum, S. intermedium, S. viminale).

Finally, there is one who has argued that the burden can be identified with the mushroom Amanita muscaria , notoriously with hallucinogenic properties.

The indianista Dutch Jan C. Heesterman in The Broken World of Sacrifice- An Essay on Ancient Indian Ritual shows how plausible identification of soma with a variety of ephedra as directed by Harry Falk in a communication to the VII World Conference of Sanskritist held in Leiden in August 1987. On that occasion Falk argued that the burden is not consisted of a hallucinogenic plant, but rather in a drug whose purpose is to stay awake during the night party inherent in the sacrifice. For Heistermann however there is no evidence of any identification of the plant and that this issue will remain unresolved at least for the foreseeable future

There are many variations that are inherent to the sacrifice of the soma (somayajña), the feature is called, in Vedic Sanskrit , agniṣṭomà (Hymn to Agni ) for prayer invoked in the most important moment of the rite , or the twelfth and final pressing of the juice plant in the fifth day of the sacrificial rite that takes place once a year in spring.

The celebrant together with the wife was locked in a hut for a period of consecration rite called diksha . Inside this hut he stood motionless with clenched fists wrapped in a skin of antelope (mṛga) embraced his wife but without the sexual act, all to evoke the intrauterine life

sikandar binayak 

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