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Have You Played...SOMA?

Deep Sea Dread

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Horror-fest SOMA [official site] is a game full of tricks and I’m still a little bitter about it. It’s not that those tricks were cheap by any means, just that they so effectively managed to surprise me again and again.

At first, it was the trick of its premise, which immediately pulled me in and refused to let me go. And then there was the endless tricks of its story, and the way it all unfolded with a kind of dread that was more effective than most of the horror games I’d ever played. SOMA captured my imagination better than most games ever have. I was hopelessly bound by the need to learn what happened next in the story. And that’s when SOMA played it’s greatest trick by making me believe that beating it would release me from the torturous hell of its dilapidated depths. It didn’t. I stayed awake for nights after just thinking about that ending.

And really, that’s why I love SOMA so much. It was truly an experience in a way a lot of games fail to ever be. And the bittersweet final moments are just as painful knowing that I’ll never be able to feel that sting quite as vividly as I did the first time. It’s still a great game, but SOMA will never make my insides knot as intensely as the first time I pulled the plug on what was effectively a human being. Or was it? I’m still debating that in my head.

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Steven Messner

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