Another look at SOMA, Frictional's new PC and PS4 horror game

Explore "consciousness and the nature of existence".

Amnesia developer Frictional Games has released a new trailer for SOMA, its next horror game due out in 2015 for PC and PlayStation 4.

The video, below, shows off an environment captured directly from within the game. To coincide with the release the Swedish developer published a blog post revealing detail on its design philosophy for the game.

"We want the player to constantly feel as if they are inside a flowing narrative," designer Thomas Grip wrote.

"It is so common that a game is distinctly split into story and puzzle/action moments. We want to blur the boundaries here and make it impossible to distinguish between the two. Whatever the player does it should feel as if it is part of the story. We do not want to have sections that simply feel like blockers to the next narrative moment. From start to finish the player should be drenched in a living, breathing world of storytelling.

"A good example is how we design puzzles. Instead of having the puzzle by itself, as a separate activity, it always springs from and is connected to some aspect of the story. For instance, if the player encounters a locked door, there are more reasons for getting it open than simply to progress. There are always short term narrative reasons and rewards for getting it unlocked. On top of this, the very act of solving it results in the player taking part of a narrative scene.

"Encounters with hostile beings are handled in the same way. A creature will never attack you without good reason; they never do it out of pure gameplay necessity. We want every encounter to feel like a bit of storytelling is happening. To get this working properly, almost every single creature has unique AI."

Then there's a note on thematics.

"SOMA is meant to explore deep subjects such as consciousness and the nature of existence," Grip continued.

"We could have done this with cutscenes and long conversations, but we chose not to. We want players to become immersed in these thematics, and the discussions to emerge from within themselves.

"It feels wrong to just shove information down the player's throat. What I find so exciting about having these thematics in a game is that the player is an active participant. There are plenty of books and movies that cover these sort of subjects, but video games provide a personal involvement that other mediums lack. We want to explore this to the fullest degree

"Just like all of the other design goals, there is a bit of risk in this. It requires the player to approach the game in a certain way and it will be impossible to make it work for everyone. But for those people where it succeeds, it will be a much more profound experience. I also find that it is when you are dealing with uncertainties that you are doing the most with the medium, and am extremely excited to see how far it will take us."

There's plenty more over at the Frictional blog.

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