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I’ve just finished a love hate relationship with Soma. Our break-up conversation went a bit like this:

Me: “Soma, I love you but you’re just not the one for me. You’re dark, complicated and at times a little hard to understand.”

Soma: *silence

Me: “We had some great times together but the fact that you just keep trying to kill me is becoming a bit of an issue.”

Soma: *silence

Me: “I thought maybe if you could stop the killing thing, we could maybe move on?”

Soma: *silence

Me: “But you’re rather insistent…so I’m not sure it’s going to work out. Perhaps we’re looking for different things.”

Soma: *death rattle breathing

Me: *crouches *hides. “Soma we talked about this.”

Classed as a survival horror game, Soma was released in 2015 and hails from the team at Frictional Games who were also responsible for Penumbra and Amnesia.

It should have taken around 10 hours to complete but it turns out I decided to spend an extra four hours crouching/weeping/facing walls while waiting for death so I took 14.

The game itself is structured around a dark and intriguing narrative, which you can only really follow if you have the fortitude to hang around and start reading emails while listening to your Facetime pal Catherine, all while in a semi-collapsed, haunted, underwater prison of nightmares.

So if you’re like me, you’ll spend quite a bit of time backtracking on the Wiki Guides after a late night of running down corridors and locking doors as fast as you can.

Your character is Simon Jarrett and through mysterious circumstances, you find yourself trapped in an underwater, remote research facility where the machinery has begun to take on human characteristics.

 

Darkness? Check. Long tunnels with faulty electrics? Check. Sporadic banging and shaking interrupting tense moments of silence? Check.

But Soma is more than that. It’s deep, eerie and plays on your innate fears.

No matter where you are in the game, you know you’re definitely not alone and the stress and pressure of trying to work out how to fix corrupted files, find power sources and collect ID cards all while noticing the headless body next to your feet has suddenly “gone missing”, makes it even more difficult to think straight.

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At least now I know what I’m going to be like in an apocalypse – “What’s that?…Run?” Just a sec – let me just sit down here and hand over my life in the same way I’d hand over an empty packet of crisps to a flight attendant, it’s fine. Just make it stop – thanks.

At first, I thought it would be the fear alone that would be my only hurdle, but in the end, there were very few scenarios I could fix on my own and if it wasn’t for my incredibly lovely and patient friends, I’d still be locked in the kitchen at the start, tossing empty tuna tins at the window while nervously keeping a close eye on the decaying corpse in the corner.

As a noob, I found a lot of the puzzles just too tricky to solve – trying to work out what to do, even without the fear, seemed more gamer instinct than anything.

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Noob vs Soma: Can it be done?

I’m not sure whether it’s lack of gamer experience, my sensitivity to long dark corridors or my inability to solve puzzles, but this combination is definitely not a recipe for Soma success.

However, because of the incredible narrative, it’s definitely worth playing the game, just be prepared for it to take you a little while.

For any noobs thinking of downloading Soma, here are a few tips for getting you through to the end:

  1. That medicine you thought would be in the medicine cabinet? It’s not.
  2. If you’re trapped in a room and the window is slightly cracked, STOP LOOKING FOR A WAY TO OPEN THE DOOR.
  3. The trail of blood on the floor is there for a reason – follow it.
  4. Stay away from the darkness. It is not your friend.
  5. Finally, get a very patient and experienced gamer friend to play the entire thing with you over Discord, so while you’re watching your 98th death sequence, they can tell you what to do.

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