Soma’s new ‘Safe Mode’ will stop monsters eating you

If you, like me, want so much to experience the undersea existential horror of Soma but you, like me, need to stand up, turn away, and go out for a brisk walk when the first monster lunges at you, there is hope. An official ‘Safe Mode’ is coming to Soma, which developers Frictional Game say will offer “the chance to explore the story without being eaten by monsters.” One seahero has previously made a mod named Wuss Mode which stops monsters from eating your face, but Safe Mode will make your safety official.

Frictional announced Safe Mode alongside a release date for Soma’s Xbox One version. That’ll launch with Safe Mode included and Frictional say the mode will come to PC in a patch on the same day, December 1st.

I’ve dropped Frictional a line to ask about how exactly Safe Mode will work. I wonder if they’ll do anything different with it. I’ll let you know what I hear back.

That mod, first released by ‘The Dreamer’ in 2015, keeps the monsters in the game but makes them non-hostile. Mostly non-hostile. When they’re roaming around levels they won’t attack you, but they do still make their terrible noises and chase you (without harming you) during certain sections. Hostile sealife is still present and will still nibble, though it doesn’t hurt.

In some ways, the monsters are better when they’re not eating you. Their very presence is still DREADFUL and being eaten can become frustrating, which shifts reactions away from fear to irritation.

Not played Soma yet? See Adam’s review.

Oh, and do check out JP LeBreton’s game tourism page if you’re looking to remove baddies from more games so you can poke around at your own pace.

26 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I like the neat underwater, overgrown aesthetic of this game. But I’m a big baby and I don’t think safe mode would stop me being too spooked.

  2. Kefren says:

    What a fantastic game.

    I only remember two bits where I was chased and worried it might get frustrating, but I passed both without too much trouble. They didn’t overdo it, and I think that’s why it works – infrequent chases keep you on your toes. If they had made a full game out of those bits it would have been predictable and stopped being scary. I loved the bits where I explored but always felt like something horrible might happen. My mind made me more tense than endless action would, which is no doubt what they intended.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      There are five or so bits like that, and I honestly felt even that was one or two too many, precisely because they’re all pretty much the same.

      I very much approve of a safe mode; it might actually make the game better. I thought the “scary” parts were ultimately just distracting and rather pointless.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ghostbird says:

        Yes. I stopped playing half way through because avoiding the monsters was getting boring. The real horror is in the situation, anyway.

  3. Focksbot says:

    Sounds ideal, actually. There’s surely some kind of investigation waiting to be done on how all ‘scary’ elements from horror games graduate to being mere frustrations the more the game tests you with them. There’s a basic clash or contradiction between the process, in a game, of acclimatising to a challenge, and the prerogative in anything horror-themed to keep you on edge. Once you die a few times, the horror is spent.

    (Nb. Haven’t played SOMA yet but have played Alien: Isolation – I found that instantly lost any prospect of being a scary game once I died to the first alien attack by not realising that walking to the back of the transit car automatically triggered the door-close mechanism. Instead, I turned round to try to figure out how to close the doors myself, was eaten by the alien, and spent the rest of my time playing viewing the alien as an irritating ‘start again’ mechanic.)

    • Laini says:

      I had kind of similar experience with Alien Isolation, although it took me a few hours before I died to the alien. It was ridiculously tense until that moment and whilst I really enjoyed the game it never managed to get back to those levels unfortunately.

    • Person of Interest says:

      That transit car invisible trigger fail was the moment I lost most of my enthusiasm for the game, as well. After my next death during a sneaking section, a bit further into the game, I quit and never returned.

      The game’s dozens of GB of install space still haunt my SSD, however…

    • Kushiel says:

      “There’s surely some kind of investigation waiting to be done on how all ‘scary’ elements from horror games graduate to being mere frustrations the more the game tests you with them.”

      Done already, sort of:
      link to gamasutra.com

    • Megatron says:

      Alien: Isolation suffered from having only the one type of encounter experience with the Alien: hide from it or it will kill you (at least until you get the flamethrower, which meant you could make it piss off once or twice before it got you). It only had the one pattern, too. Alien would stomp about while you hid, then would go up into ducting for a while before reappearing again, which repeated throughout the entire game. Honestly by the time I’d finished the game I was actually sick of seeing the damned thing. It was still tense but it felt artificially so. I wasn’t fighting a living breathing Alien monster I was fighting game code with predictable rote responses.

      I had a hugely enjoyable time with A:O – it is in many ways an utter triumph – but I doubt I’ll ever go back now that I have such a clear view of the workings behind the curtain.

      • Eleriel says:

        There’s a mod called ‘unpredictable alien mod’ that really breathes some life into the game. making the alien much less tethered to you.

        though, personally I *really* enjoyed the playthrough where I made the alien completely ignore me alltogether (but not the other NPCs). Made me feel like David Attenborough or Jane Goodall.

        “… and here we see the Xenomorph in it’s unnatural habitat. Oh, Shhh, look there’s a group of human survivors, and the Alien doesn’t seem to have spotted them yet, and they haven’t spotted IT either. Let’s see what happens if we throw this noisemaker right at them.”

  4. TychoCelchuuu says:

    I played this with an “enemies can’t hurt you” mod. Glad to see the developers realized people like me exist. I’m doing the same thing with Alien: Isolation.

    • wombat191 says:

      Alien Isolation is a spectacular world to explore which is really hard when you are constantly being hunted haha

      • dethtoll says:

        There is actually a period in the game where you can explore the station relatively unmolested — it’s after you think you’ve gotten rid of the bug and the Joes start acting up.

  5. tornflags says:

    SOMA is a masterpiece and I don’t throw such a word lightly. I can’t wait to replay it in December.

  6. Synesthesia says:

    Already did my run with the Wuss mode mod, and I’m glad I did. I hope more horror games get this option.

  7. Sardonic says:

    Soma is pretty fascinating to me. Holding the Ark felt like holding the most important item a videogame player has essentially held.

  8. Seafoam says:

    Story: fantastic. Atmosphere: fantastic. Reflections on the nature of our existence: fantastic. Monsters: horrible, unnecessary and tacked on.

    Now the game is 100% pure fantastic. You could corrode a sink with this high concentrate.

  9. duns4t says:

    Added to wishlist!

  10. Hyena Grin says:

    Yes I am a scaredy cat, but I just enjoy horror games more when there’s no monsters making me hit quickload.

    Games can be scary without the constant threat of death! A well-crafted spooky/unsettling environment is plenty effective at making me feel spooked and unsettled.

    I am quite a bit more likely to pick this up now, which is nice, ‘cuz I’ve heard good things. But I’ve already had a few similar monster-hunting-me-horror games that I just can’t bring myself to play, like Amnesia and Alien. I figured I wouldn’t play it either, so it fell off the radar.

  11. Ghostwise says:

    Eh, this game tourism page is useful. Thanks.

    • Premium User Badge

      alison says:

      Agreed. I would go back and finish Metro 2033, MGS5 and Hitman if they had tourist modes. Games with a proper save system like Deus Ex aren’t so bad to me, but checkpoint games will never be worth the effort no matter how good the story is. Special mention for Far Cry 2 which was terrific until they ruined it on the final mission by forcing checkpoints.

  12. Megatron says:

    Frictional are the new Looking Glass. Their games, for me, are every bit as wondrous as the best of LG’s output. Penumbra holds a very special place in my heart for being one of the very few games to make me so incredibly unbelievably angry that I almost stopped playing it…until I realised the pure story-telling genius of what it had just done to me.

    Soma is incredible. I can’t praise it highly enough. Just when you think they can’t increase your sense of isolation they absolutely do…and then some! Loved the chase sequences – there’s nothing like fleeing from a beast that you know is just three steps behind you and WILL kill you if it catches you. Amazing.

  13. MrBehemoth says:

    It’s great that people will get to try SOMA who found it otherwise too scary to play, because it is AMAZING.

    I have to say, though, I thought the difficulty, frequency and predictability of the monster encounters was just right. It will be a very different game without them. The philosophical complexity of the story doesn’t exist in isolation, but as part of a harsh and oppressive world that is more than just set dressing and demonstrates the painful and conflicting link between personality and physicality, using pain and conflict.

    I strongly recommend to anyone who hasn’t played it that they try the original version first!

    • MattM says:

      Right, It’s fine that some people want to experience this game their own way, but this talk about SOMA being better without the monsters is crazy talk. They added so much to the tension, player investment, and the plot.
      I do agree that horror games should often be easier than other games. Repeating a part a few times can replace uncertainty with frustration or even just encourage the player to explore the systems too much. I don’t think I died once in SOMA though. I got caught a few times and knocked unconscious and injured but I never had to repeat any part of the game.

  14. Premium User Badge

    wonderingmonster says:

    This sounds like great news. I loved playing the game but dealing with the monsters felt like such a chore after a while.

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