SOMA Screenshots

SOMA is a great story wrapped up in gameplay that adheres to traditional horror-game cliches, even when playing in the new “Safe Mode” that grants main character Simon a superhuman ability to withstand damage from the game’s occasional monsters. Personally, I didn’t care for the loud sounds and dark hallways so much given my distaste for these types of cheap suspense-building tricks, and the number of enemies punching me around corridors while screaming started to feel a bit excessive and unnecessary around halfway in, but the storytelling here is so unlike your average “game story” that it’s well worth playing for anyone who doesn’t mind a few unexpected flickering lights and moaning/gurgling flesh monstrosities. Read more →

SOMA: Progress Log #4 [END]

[Click here to start from the first progress log]

After all of the frustration of the last progress log, getting to the next area and being handed a bunch of dark hallways to complement a checklist of three items required to progress was almost enough to cause me to stop playing; at this point the story had slowed to an absolute crawl, replaced with the Monsterhallway Facepunch Extravaganza, and the thought of more tedious scavenger hunt gameplay wasn’t appreciated. It’s around this point that I took a short break from playing to look up a SOMA longplay and decide if continuing was going to be worth it or not, and while I discovered that I was only 3/4 of the way done, there were only three or so annoying monsters standing between me and the ending. And the ending is a great return to everything I loved about the first half. It was totally worth pushing through, then, but I do have to take exception to this so-called “Safe Mode”; granted, you’re free to wander around as a near-immortal, but the overall game is still designed to freak you out with loud sound effects, enemies who randomly teleport around to mess with you (which is to say nothing of the chasing and screaming), lights randomly going out, and things exploding/shattering when you walk by them. Given the relatively minor consequences of dying, Safe Mode is really only a Slightly Faster But Still Freaky Mode rather than being something that opens it up to players who don’t appreciate those types of horror-game tricks. But hey, I’m glad I got to experience the story. Read more →

Fire Emblem – Radiant Dawn: Progress Log #40

[Click here to start from the first progress log]

This is the second-to-last chapter in the game, and it’s usually one of the hardest ones thanks to my style of play typically only giving me four decent characters to use. Which is to say that the laguz royals are all huge liabilities during this chapter thanks to their inability to counterattack indirectly; everything in this chapter uses magic, and royals can easily be surrounded by enemies from all angles and quickly worn down. With the added strength of Nephenee and Titania and Soren, however, things become much easier. Especially since the boss has an annoying habit of redirecting attacks directed at him so that they hit adjacent enemies instead. Having extra characters around to help take those guys out really speeds things up. Read more →

SOMA: Progress Log #3

[Click here to start from the first progress log]

At the end of the last progress log, I was at a place of “I can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner.” Now I’m closer to “I can’t wait for this game to end because the gameplay is really awkward, even without the monsters being able to kill you.” Getting stalked and punched by a bunch of screaming horrors you can barely see in the dark is an annoying experience regardless of their lethality, and the platforming, invariably circuitous puzzle solutions, and general inability to tell which way is forward at several points has really dampened my enthusiasm. Of course, these are inherent to the genre up to a certain point, so I can’t justify holding many of these problems against the game since they could be considered selling points. I just wish that the story hadn’t suddenly taken a break while a bunch of Screamy McCancers (or perhaps a single one with great initiative) knocked me around same-y corridors while I desperately tried to find something that could be interacted with to progress. Read more →

Fire Emblem – Radiant Dawn: Progress Log #39

[Click here to start from the first progress log]

This chapter is where we get all of our main weapons blessed (sadly, not our staves, so there’s no chance of infinite long-range healing), which means that the long-range magic saved up over the game will now become unbreakable. Using Leanne to refresh two units—ideally Soren and Sanaki because I made sure that they both have Adept—it’s possible to get 4-6 long-range magic attacks per turn. Sometimes even more than that if Soren’s speed is high enough to double an enemy from afar. That won’t be anywhere near enough to deal with this chapter’s boss, though, so we’re going to have to throw everything we’ve got at this stage to make it through. Read more →

SOMA: Progress Log #2

[Click here to start from the first progress log]

A long, long time ago, an episode of Batman: The Animated Series twisted my mind in all the right ways. It was one where a new character was introduced, only to be revealed to be piece of Clayface that he sent out as a scout, but that became lost in the process and eventually became its own independent entity. It raised a bunch of intriguing questions about what it means to exist and where the lines are, and ever since, movies and games that hit on and explore those same questions have been virtually guaranteed to become personal favorites of mine. SOMA is absolutely in the same vein as that episode, and not just in a single story instance; every situation, scene, and character is designed to raise these types of questions, sometimes doing so from different angles or in a context that challenges what you’d expect your go-to response to be. The ways that it pulls this off, however, are all spoilers, so it’s impossible to talk about SOMA’s greatest accomplishments without potentially ruining them for someone. Consider that a bit of a disclaimer that the game’s story is amazing, then, because the lesser facets that are safe to talk about (including some slight technical imperfections) are ultimately dwarfed by the gravity of the story. Read more →

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