Frictional officially unveils space horror Soma

After a 10-day teaser campaign, Frictional has announced Soma — a sci-fi horror the developer has had in the works for three years.

After a 10-day teaser campaign, Frictional has announced Soma — a sci-fi horror the developer has had in the works for three years.

(Credit: Frictional Games)

Earlier this month, Frictional Games, the developer behind the magnificent Penumbra and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, launched a mysterious teaser website that seemed to showcase retrieved space artefacts. The game behind it has been unveiled: Soma, a first-person space horror slated for a 2015 release for PC and PlayStation 4.

Creative director Thomas Grip took to the PlayStation blog to open up about the game, which has been kept tightly under wraps for three years. He describes it as a game in which you, the player, are not a hardened space marine or super warrior, but an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances.

The radio has gone silent on PATHOS-2. As isolation bears down on the staff of the remote research facility, strange things are happening.

Machines are taking on human traits, and alien constructions have started to interfere with routine. The world around them is turning into a nightmare.

The only way out is to do something unimaginable.

"The subject that Soma will discuss is consciousness," Grip wrote. "Personally, I find it the most profound question that it is possible to ask. 'How can the feeling of subjective experience arise from a chunk of flesh?' Exploring this further takes us to questions such as 'Can machines be conscious?' and 'Do we have free will?' It quickly gets very disturbing and is ideal for a futuristic horror setting. It is the kind of sci-fi that we want to make."

(Credit: Frictional Games)

The game's two live-action teaser trailers set in research facility Omicron show a mysterious machine, codenamed Vivarium, which replicates the room it's in on its monitor to eerie effect, and Mockingbird, a robot that thinks it's a man — chief engineer Adam Gloaski, alive and working at Omicron.

Along with the blog post about the game, a new website has launched with a gameplay teaser. It shows the protagonist waking up after some sort of incident, abandoned in a laboratory smeared with blood.

"Soma is meant to be a proper sci-fi game, and to get that right we couldn’t let the themes be an afterthought. My favourite works of sci-fi are the ones that use fantastic worlds to probe important issues in a way that down-to-earth settings just cannot. Great sci-fi authors like Asimov, Dick and Heinlein all do this. We want to give Soma this quality as well," Grip wrote. "Our goal is for Soma to not just be another carnival ride of cheap scares. It is meant to chill you to your core and confront you with questions about your very existence."

And it's definitely inspired by the SCP Foundation. "I guess I have to settle the big debate: are these inspired by SCP?" wrote Grip on the Frictional Games blog. "And, yes they are! That was actually the pitch for the whole thing: 'Let's have some SCP-like texts on the website to give out spooky and fragmented info before the final trailer is released.' The game itself is, however, not very close to the SCP-style at all. There are some SCP inspiration in Soma for sure, but it is a lot more subtle and has to do with how we think about monsters and artefacts. They play a larger role now, the foreboding is much deeper and there is a bigger connection with them and the central themes in the game. Actually, a lot of the Soma's themes are directly expressed through interactions with enemies, an idea that stems from SCP."

Watch the gameplay trailer below, and visit the developer's blog for future updates.

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About the author

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

 

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