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.
“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.