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.

My least favorite part

All right, I’m going to make this one great big chronological chunk of videos, because I honestly didn’t make it very far before I got annoyed and took a break. No fun screenshots like action heroes with skulls for heads or plants wearing sunglasses; from where I left off, everything took a pretty major turn for the worse and it was all screaming abominations and awkward platforming. I’m hoping the story starts to factor in more, because right now Simon is just trying to get from point A to point B, and every cosmic force in the universe seems to be conspiring against him in order to ensure that this is as tedious and repetitive a task as possible.

Screamy McCancer is up to his old tricks and is now weirdly devoted to hiding in the dark and unexpectedly punching me, which never ceases to get me turned around. I totally had it coming in the video above, but he kept at it long after I moved on.

After some wandering around where I simply couldn’t find the things needed to continue, it turns out that I had to break a window. This particular window was strangely sturdy, though, and if it hadn’t visually changed after the first blow, I’d have likely concluded that it was unbreakable (since what does and doesn’t break isn’t consistent). That would have meant getting stuck. I’m starting to hate windows.

Also, the video has no sound because I needed a short break from the screaming.

I thought that one of the features of Safe Mode was that the monsters mind their own business until you start harassing them, but this guy follows me around and even waits outside of rooms on occasion, screaming all the while. All of the constant screaming is starting to give me a headache, so I’ve taken to playing my own music on top of the game to try and drown it out. You can actually do this with the Xbox One’s Groove music app, which lets you upload music to Onedrive and then play it in the background during games. It’s not a perfect solution, but it doesn’t show up in the videos and makes the constant screaming slightly more bearable.

All of that was annoying, but this section with the corridors is the worst. It’s unreasonably dark, and this is the bit where I’m not sure if there’s a single extremely mobile Screamy McCancer or several working together. Whatever the case, looking for the one thing in all of these corridors that restores the power isn’t fun. Especially since it doesn’t stand out, and it’s hard enough to see things given the darkness and constant punching. Hopefully future monsters are less aggravating than this guy.

This is the bit where I decided that I needed to take a break. After getting punched around in the dark, the next thing you have to do is leap into some water and find the way forward. The area is thankfully monster-free, but the water is brown and makes it difficult to see anything. Also, a bunch of the ladders don’t lead anywhere helpful, and there’s a depth of field effect that makes it even more difficult to discern what you need to be trying to reach. This caused me to end up leaping back to where I had originally jumped from before finally figuring out that there was a slightly open grate that could be interacted with. Not that you have any obvious way of knowing it can be moved; what can and can’t be moved is entirely arbitrary. The only way to know if you can open a door or if it’s an impassable decoration is to try to open it, and that’s not ideal when failing means slowly wading through opaque water again.

[Click here to go to SOMA log #2]
[Click here to go to SOMA log #4 (END)]

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