The Horror! Soma’s Live-Action Prequel Series

Most video game trailers with real people acting are rubbish, but those for Soma [official site] were dreadful – in the good, unnerving, dread-y, wrong way. Little research reports from a then-mysterious lab, they had a fine SCP eeriness to them. Frictional may have now finished and released their first-person horror – it’s flawed but pretty good – but the story continues, as today brings the first free episode of a live-action prequel miniseries inspired by the game.

“The live-action miniseries contain very minor spoilers,” Frictional do warn. “But best to play the game first in order to understand it.” With that said, here’s the first episode of the series “inspired by” the game:

Some of that might seem familiar, which would be because Frictional have teased it a bit a few months back.

New episodes will come daily until October 5th. While we’re here, hey, here are those two live-action teasers from 2013, back before Frictional had revealed much of anything about the game, its setting, or its concept:

The teasers seemed more subtle because the game was still cloaked in mystery and didn’t need to fit a (seemingly) coherent, linear narrative, but sure, I’ll watch more videos about creepy robots who don’t know they’re robots. I may be too much of a babby to play the game myself.

14 Comments

  1. sebagul says:

    I was hyped on this game, but found it boring… Empty.

    • DevilishEggs says:

      I still think Penumbra’s their best work, even though it began as a tech demo. Just the feeling of going deeper and deeper … to find … physics puzzles … and lost souls …

    • TheRaptorFence says:

      I agree. I think a lot of what made it so boring to me was threefold:

      1.) It had little buildup towards a release of tension. I mean, it felt like every 10 minutes I was avoiding a robot, which in turn made it much less terrifying. People may have criticized Alien: Isolation for its length, but by God whenever the Alien showed up after an hour or so it was horrifying.

      2.) The general level design lacked substance. It was lots of corridors and obvious pathfinding. It felt like little work was put into trying to make the stations seem bigger than they were.

      3.) The story was sophmoric philosophy. The plot twists, while good, were the only reason I held on to playing to the end. The actual dialogue was contrived and didn’t evoke much thought or emotion from me. This last part could be because I’m a philosophy grad, but it just felt shallow.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Tbf doing philosophy in games is hard (It’s hard in fiction in general tbh), you have to kind of weave it into the fabric of the game so whilst you never even speak a word of dialog about it (Dialog is such a clumsy way to put across philosophical concepts, it’s like exposition dumps in movies, a serious Faux pas ), it’s always there in the set, the actions of the characters the general tone.

        Bioshock is the only game that did it particularly well to my memory, that and Spec Ops:The Lines … although that kind of went in the opposite direction and beat you round the head with its point then made you beat other people round the head with it.

    • Jalan says:

      I, like most others, was expecting it to be more horror than what is actually on offer (before anyone wants to bring up points for arguing otherwise: I’m not dismissing the fact that there’s horror elements in it). For me though, the fact that it isn’t, is not a disappointment.

      I mean, there’s some things I don’t like (some things I already mentioned in one of the other articles about the game), but if I remove the full horror expectation away from it, I find myself liking it a lot more than I initially realized.

      • mavrik says:

        Honestly the “horror” parts where you were stalked by monsters were the most annoying and un-fun with me though. The parts were you explore the station, it’s history and what happened to inhabitants without things jumping at you were really really enjoyable though.

        • Jalan says:

          That’s not far off from where I land with it, really.

          I think, in all honesty, if Frictional had made the decision to have it be a narrative driven full sci-fi experience, I’d be calling it my favorite game they’ve developed to date (though not my favorite game they’ve published, since I’m probably one of the lunatic few who found Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs to be fantastic).

          Whatever it is they do next, I hope they move off the horror angle (and I say that as a fan of just about all things horror), since it’s clear they’re capable of a lot more.

    • meepmeep says:

      While the game has flaws, I found the setting and telling very interesting, with so much backstory to try and piece together from the scattered elements.

      I grant that the monster sections were somewhat…additional…but the overall atmosphere was really well crafted. No other game has created the feel of walking along the seabed at 3000m below the surface.

      Well, ok, maybe Grim Fandango.

  2. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    I still find that giant-monitor-cables-thing to be terrifying. Here’s hoping it found its way into SOMA.

  3. Synesthesia says:

    Oh man, a proper SCP-like series I would eat up. Shame it would be so ridiculously expensive and niche. Oh well, guess it’s time to waste my entire work day at scp-net. Bye!

  4. Zallgrin says:

    I loved the SOMA live-action trailers so much, that I was more hyped for the supposed live-action SOMA movie than the game itself. I mean, a shame about the rumored movie being just a rumour, but a mini-series is still amazing news.

  5. faircall says:

    I loved this game! Sure the voice acting and some writing was not that great at times (shame they couldn’t get Tom Jubert on it), but my god were the environments well made. The undersea transitions in particular were really well done, unlike in Bioshock 2.

    By the way, I think the robot in this clip is voiced by Don Thacker of Starr Mazer!

  6. dethtoll says:

    I’m well known as a Frictional hater. They’ve redeemed themselves with SOMA.

    I mean, okay, there’s no redeeming first person wussers. But actual monster encounters are actually so few and far between that they have much more meaning (which I guess jibes with one of the developers complaining that Amnesia was just a linear sequence of scares.) And the relative scarcity of them makes my resentment of the “you have no arms and cannot scream” horror genre somewhat moot for most of the game.

    It helps that it’s basically like if System Shock/Doom 3/Bioshock/whatever were written by Philip K. Dick.

  7. Shake Appeal says:

    I can take or leave SOMA’s philosophical “musings” (because “What does it mean to be human?! What is consciousness???” has been done a thousand times before and better), and I think it’s at its most tedious when I have to avoid a monster, but all of that is forgiven by how beautiful it looks and sounds. There are so many wonderful vistas, tiny details of design, and elegiac tributes to, just, humanity that I’m happy to plod on to see what it has to show me next. I think it effortlessly soars above Bioshock or Alien: Isolation in this regard, even though I liked those games (and loved Isolation).