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SOMA: Frictional Games Brings Sci-Fi Horror to PS4

Thomas Grip's Avatar + Posted by Thomas Grip on Oct 11, 2013 // Creative Director, Frictional Games

Hi, I am Thomas Grip, creative director at Frictional Games, an indie studio based in Sweden. We have been crafting horror games since 2006 and are probably most famous for having created Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Previously, we have only developed for PC, but this time our new title will be released for PS4 as well!


For the last three years, we have been working on a game called SOMA. All that time, this project has remained a secret — it’s a great relief to finally be able to talk about it. This game is by far the most ambitious and thrilling project we have ever undertaken.

“SOMA is meant to chill you to your core, and confront you with questions about your very existence.”

So, what exactly is SOMA? Briefly stated, it is a sci-fi horror game played from a first person perspective. You are not a space marine though; you’re a normal, very exposed person trapped in a nightmarish world. SOMA is a game about exploration, survival and immersing you inside an interactive narrative.

That short description does not really do the game justice though. In order to properly explain why I’m so excited, we need to dig a bit deeper.

In all of our previous games, the setting and themes have been by-products. We started with the core gameplay, then created high level aspects that fit with that. While a lot of good can come from this approach, it makes it very hard to approach tougher subjects.

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 favorite 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.

SOMA on PS4

SOMA on PS4SOMA on PS4

“How can the feeling of subjective experience arise from a chunk of flesh?”

The subject that SOMA will discuss is consciousness. Personally, I find it the most profound questions 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.

From the start, we knew that this could not just come through background story or dialog. We want you to play through this. It must be an integral part of the gameplay, not just fluff.

Part of this comes through the game’s monsters. You will encounter a number of strange creatures, each an embodiment of an aspect of our themes. In order to survive the journey, you need to understand how they work and in the process take on extremely unsettling subjects.

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.

To track the development more closely, follow us on Twitter or check our blog. Many more strange things will emerge before our 2015 release.

//Add Your Own

41 Comments   7 Replies

1

+ trum3n1 on October 11th, 2013 at 6:43 am said:

EU PS+ for this and next month:

FarCry3 (PS3)
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (PS3)
Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen (PS3)
Street Fighter X Tekken (PSVita)
Touch My Katamari (PSVita)
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3)
Remember Me (PS3)
Oddworld Strangers Wrath (PSVita)
Motorstorm RC (PSVita)

US PS+ :

Ico (PS3)
Shadow of The Collossus (PS3) SEPERATLY !!!!!!! EU got it together.
GTA Liberty City Stories (PSP!!!!!)
Hotline Miami (PSVita)
+ some crap games which are not worth mentioning.

So which one is better? This is rhetorical question btw….


2

+ paulogy on October 11th, 2013 at 6:48 am said:

I’ve been watching the promo videos so far. Delightfully unsettling stuff! To now find out it’s coming to PS4 is such a bonus!

I loved the consciousness themes explored in the sci-fi puzzler The Swapper, so your upcoming game is a welcome addition to that genre. Looking forward to it!


3

+ Hayades on October 11th, 2013 at 6:53 am said:

looking foward to this. liked the sci-fi vibe in the video


4

+ webspidus_br on October 11th, 2013 at 6:57 am said:

This is a good PS+, This is Euro PS+

http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2013/10/11/playstation-plus-in-november-metal-gear-rising-remember-me-more/

PlayStation Plus in November: Metal Gear Rising, Remember Me, more


5

+ KidCommando on October 11th, 2013 at 7:18 am said:

@1

Nice try, but you forgot Sine Mora and Reckoning for this month. You also have two months worth of content for EU and only this month for NA. quit cherry picking your content to make your argument.

I am not saying NA is better, but if you can’t find value in your $50 a year, then you should cancel your membership or get an EU account. It is your own fault for judging the value of content against EU when it should be judged against the $50 you spend. What you get is either worth $50 or it is not, very simple.

Also, this is not the post to address your issue. quit disrespecting others posts that have nothing to do with your little Plus crusade.

Now there will be other comments, including mine, that have nothing to do with SOMA or Frictional Games. Mods, please delete his comment and mine as it is off topic.


6

+ KidCommando on October 11th, 2013 at 7:21 am said:

This game looks interesting. I have never played Amnesia but looking forward to seeing more about this game. Anything that “questions my very existence” has my attention.


7

+ GeoDarky on October 11th, 2013 at 7:22 am said:

horror games are making a comeback!


8

+ Gorvi on October 11th, 2013 at 7:34 am said:

This isn’t a Plus post guys, have some respect for the developer here and keep it on topic.

SOMA sounds fantastic, I really look forward to seeing more.

Is there any chance that we’ll see the Amnesia games come over to PS4? I’ve enjoyed the Penumbra games and the first Amnesia (haven’t gotten to AMFP yet), the more people that play those the better. :)


    Thomas Grip's Avatar

     

    + Thomas Grip on October 11th, 2013 at 8:15 am said:

    Happy you like the sound of it! :)

    We are looking into Amnesia on the PS4. Cannot promise anything though.


9

+ Eliarph on October 11th, 2013 at 7:44 am said:

Nice. I suppose this is an improved version of the HPL engine, right? I can’t wait to see its new features.


10

+ furystylee on October 11th, 2013 at 7:47 am said:

I just started on Amnesia and if SOMA captures any of that same vibe this should be amazing (& terrifying!).


11

+ mettreidici on October 11th, 2013 at 7:57 am said:

After a quick peek on the blog, I am impressed by the dialogue you guys are building with others games and concepts like narrative, immersion, gameplay, etc. I’ll bookmark and read later. Look like a very interesting read.

Other than that, I am with Gorvi, this isn’t a PS+ post – post your complains elsewhere


12

+ reson8er on October 11th, 2013 at 7:58 am said:

I can’t wait to see more, this could be incredible. 2015 seems far off, but man if you guys nail this, it will certainly worth the wait.


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    + Thomas Grip on October 11th, 2013 at 8:28 am said:

    2015 feels far off to me too! :)

    I would have loved to launch it next year, but it would not have been possible to deliver the quality we want if we did.

    I feel like we have really nailed down how to exploit our themes in the best manner and it is gonna take some tweaking and polish to get it perfect. We all at Frictional are really looking forward seeing just how much we can unsettle you. Muhahaha :D


13

+ Revolutionary on October 11th, 2013 at 8:00 am said:

Frictional games on PlayStation! Never thought I’d see the day. I’ve played all of your games (Penumbra games and Amnesia), so I’m very excited to see you guys make the jump. I’m curious as to how your games would work with a controller, though.


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    + Thomas Grip on October 11th, 2013 at 8:18 am said:

    Feels really good for us to try out a launch on a console!

    We have had SOMA working with a controller for a long and it works very nicely! So you shouldn’t have any problems with it.


14

+ Bloodios on October 11th, 2013 at 8:07 am said:

Sounds awesome, I definitely am looking forward to it. By the way, I hope you would consider bringing Amnesia: The Dark Descent to PlayStation 4.


15

+ Redfield70x7 on October 11th, 2013 at 8:12 am said:

Revolutionary, I’d imagine the game will work perfectly with a controller. Controllers are the best. :)


16

+ Redfield70x7 on October 11th, 2013 at 8:14 am said:

This game just made me jump back on the fence about which next gen system I am going to get… argh. I love xbox but I swear, if The Last of Us 2 is mentioned, then that may very well be the deciding factor.


17

+ SeanStrange on October 11th, 2013 at 8:34 am said:

I’m really bad with horror games. I bought Amnesia a long time ago and only played it for a total of an hour due to me being a wimp. BUT! I’ll be sure to pick this title up on the PS4! Me and some friends can’t sit around a computer, but we can surely sit around on the couch and watch each other play! Really happy you guys are developing such an awesome looking horror game for the PS4 and I hope you guys make much more astonishing games in the coming future! :)


18

+ Bloodios on October 11th, 2013 at 8:39 am said:

I forgot to ask earlier but is SOMA powered by HPL Engine 3?


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    + Thomas Grip on October 11th, 2013 at 8:46 am said:

    Yes, new shiny engine! Entire renderer is updated and lots of nice extra features.


19

+ Bloodios on October 11th, 2013 at 9:00 am said:

Nice! Also, just another curious question, have the team ever considered creating your own anti-aliasing solution that would work well with the game’s aesthetic rather than using existing methods?


20

+ ElektroDragon on October 11th, 2013 at 9:29 am said:

Why not bring Amnesia to the PS3 or PS4 too? Would love to see that!


    Thomas Grip's Avatar

     

    + Thomas Grip on October 11th, 2013 at 10:36 am said:

    See my reply to #8! :)


21

+ whatisdelicious on October 11th, 2013 at 9:32 am said:

I really like the blue pullquotes. Very nice looking, very fitting with the overall look of PlayStation.

Anyway, as a note for Frictional, my problem with The Dark Descent was that it was way, way too easy to learn the “rules” of what can hurt me, what can’t, what I should be afraid of, etc. and eventually the game got kind of boring for me and not really that scary. I know a lot of people found it really terrifying, so I guess I’m in the minority, but just as a note for people like me, make sure it’s really hard to tell what the rules are.

Here’s an analogy: In Batman Begins, criminals didn’t know what to expect from Batman. They thought he was a monster that could kill them from the shadows. By the time The Dark Knight rolls around, criminals are onto Batman. He’s dangerous, but he’s not gonna kill them. Then the Joker comes along: “You’ve got rules. The Joker, he’s got no rules.” The Joker will kill people.

I want SOMA to be less Batman and more Joker. I hope that made sense, haha.


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    + Thomas Grip on October 11th, 2013 at 10:45 am said:

    Yeah a big problem is that we pretty much only had two AI models in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. One for the grunt/brute and one for the water lurker. The water lurker works great because we used it in just a few places and always under new circumstances. But, especially at the end, the grunt/brute AI was spammed a lot.

    So one thing in SOMA is that there will be more enemy types. Also, what we are trying to do is to mess with your mind a bit more so that you are less sure of how the creatures work. Normally in games the goal is to win over the enemies, so you learn all their patterns, etc. Eventually you have a mind model that is pretty true to the underlying AI. We want to get away from this as much as possible.

    Instead you should only have hints of how they behave and then fill out the gaps with your own imagination. And it is here where the fun starts. Your imagined model of the creature will be muchscarier than anything we could code, yet you will act on this when playing the game. If done correctly, you will never be able to figure out the true behavior of a monster, and live in constant uncertainty if your beliefs are accurate. This can lead to really nightmarish experience.

    That is our goal :)


22

+ TLSBill on October 11th, 2013 at 9:40 am said:

The Mockingbird video had me very excited for SOMA! This video killed any enthusiasm I had for it. Mockingbird made sense in the context of your exploration of consciousness, but this seems unnecessarily “horror-y”. Too dark, went from robots to blood & brains hanging out, wood planks in a room surrounded by super-sci-fi stuff? Seems disjointed, and we don’t even get a shotgun we can’t strap a flashlight too? lol passing on this one. Best of luck though..


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    + Thomas Grip on October 11th, 2013 at 10:48 am said:

    Too bad you feel that way.

    Remember that this trailer shows of the game at its most intense. You might wanna read a bit on the thinking behind it to clear a few things up.
    http://frictionalgames.blogspot.se/2013/10/soma-officially-revealed.html

    And I promise, if you liked the live-action teasers, there will be A LOT of stuff for you to like in the final game.


23

+ tengfei-hayabusa on October 11th, 2013 at 9:52 am said:

je vient de lire sur jeuxvideo.com que les membre ps+ auront metal gear revenge et remember me le 23 octobre.!!
sans compté les jeux offert le mois dernier comme far cry 3 ,dragon dogma et street x tekken le tout pour 50 euro.
je sais pas comment vous gagner de l’argent!? mais MERCY SONY


24

+ OneMoreVillain on October 11th, 2013 at 10:40 am said:

Looking forward to seeing and hearing more. The only suggestions I would have is tone down the breathing a bit.. Every 1-2 steps he is letting out two consecutive breaths. It is very distracting as it doesn’t go well with the ambience seeing as I shouldn’t be out of breath after standing still for a moment looking around and taking a couple of steps only to hear *deep breath* *deep breath* (Unless there is something in the air?)

Second thing has to do with SFX again but this was humorous but must be fixed it is obviously sloppy. When you pull the brick out of the wall the wall falling SFX is just ridiculous. Tumbling bricks on top of each other does not sound anything like a car smashing through a wall.

Keep up the rest of the good work.


25

+ Connor2122 on October 11th, 2013 at 10:51 am said:

Maybe next year sometime 2014 we get Amnesia collection with The Dark Ascent, A machine for pigs on PS4 that be amazing :)


26

+ indyvette on October 11th, 2013 at 12:04 pm said:

This looks very interesting, I for one have such a hard time playing any level of horror game, yet I enjoy them so much. Amnesia (although I agree with a recent reply about the AI) still gets me because I hate being chased, literally make me nervous. One thing that I love about F.E.A.R and F.E.A.R 2 (which if it were implemented in SOMA, would have me want it even more) was the atmosphere of something might get you, but sometimes never does. That left me so uneasy throughout those games it was hard to play, yet so fun at the same time.

It’s good to see you guys branching out to consoles (I’m a pc gamer myself, however), it definitely expands your market and brings new challenges when developing.

Keep up the good work!!


27

+ BigStack007 on October 11th, 2013 at 12:12 pm said:

35 Days till greatness arrives.


28

+ Welmosca on October 11th, 2013 at 12:20 pm said:

Hoou this looks crazy….shame its on PS4 only but the graphics looks really great…the atmosphere seems incredible.All seemed amazing but how about adding animations for his actions?….like his hand appearing while holding things,opening a door and etc…its really annoying to see things moving alone and floating….and its a shame to see a game like this on da PS4 without proper animations for the character actions.Dont mean to be rude just a positive criticism.

Well since its your 1st time developing for PS…welcome and hope you guys do a great job with PS which seems you’re already doing…(sigh) even this game being on PS4 I’m really looking forward to it.


29

+ Welmosca on October 11th, 2013 at 12:23 pm said:

Forgot to mention…showing gameplay right away in 1st while announcing a game is a great sign of trust in your own game which most of the devs dont do….I appreciate that and its a great start.


30

+ TheGuy-U-JustMet on October 11th, 2013 at 12:37 pm said:

I loved the amnesia games and I cant wait to play this one! Its funny how I sold my ps3 to buy new parts for my computer… Better start saving for a ps4!


31

+ Kchow23 on October 11th, 2013 at 12:43 pm said:

BRING ALL YOUR GAMES TO PS4 :)


32

+ whatisdelicious on October 11th, 2013 at 1:20 pm said:

@Thomas: Okay, you sold me, and I really appreciate the honesty. I am all over this now.


33

+ twinspectre on October 11th, 2013 at 1:28 pm said:

#FrictionalFranchiseonPS4
please make it happend i love your games :)


34

+ twinspectre on October 11th, 2013 at 1:30 pm said:

AMNESIA and PENUMBRA on Playstation4


35

+ Bloodios on October 11th, 2013 at 2:42 pm said:

Not sure why you chose not to answer my previous question @19 but here are two more questions, please answer:
- Is SOMA’s native resolution going to be 1080p on the PS4?
- Is SOMA going to be running at 30fps or 60fps?


36

+ tusunami on October 11th, 2013 at 4:40 pm said:

This will be interesting to see if this will be as scary as DeadSpace trilogy. PS4 day 1 shipping i’m out


37

+ ps_n_blog_ac on October 11th, 2013 at 7:01 pm said:

Man this game looks promising :) can’t wait


38

+ Welmosca on October 14th, 2013 at 11:29 am said:

@ 35 Bloodios – Those are things that dont matter…so no point for him answering to you.


39

+ raulust on October 15th, 2013 at 10:41 pm said:

And at the end a light or better than that a shadow… so glad to see horror games taking their place again!!!! :D hell yeah! ps4


40

+ Biiodoll on October 20th, 2013 at 2:11 pm said:

Really looking forward to this game! I loved Amnesia…I have a feeling this will be great as well.


41

+ EXQUISITEEMPRESS on November 9th, 2013 at 6:08 pm said:

I’m intrigued. Amnesia: The Dark Descent scared the hell out of me for years until I realized eventually that it was just a game created through the imagination of geniuses at Frictional Games. I’m looking forward to SOMA.


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