Frictional Games says SOMA has been "crazy hard" to make


Frictional Games has been working on SOMA since 2010, and it's still not expected to come out until later this year. That's a long development haul for any game, and especially an indie release, but the studio's determination to get away from the style of "run and hide in closets" gameplay popularized by Amnesia: The Dark Descent proved more difficult than perhaps it expected.

"First, we used a lot of time to develop new tech for the engine, so it took a year almost before the development properly started," Creative Director Thomas Grip said in an interview with GamingBolt. "Second, and by far [the] biggest reason, is that it has been crazy hard for us to get our main design features, a thematic that you play through and active story-telling, to work properly. We had gone down many roads that did not turn out to work, and had to redo a lot."

Grip explained in a 2013 interview that SOMA will rely primarily on gameplay to tell its story, which focuses on the nature of consciousness. But figuring out how to do that "without tons of info-dumps" was a challenge. "On top of that we wanted to do this as an active story, meaning that the bulk of the narrative is played and not gotten from notes/audiologs, and that has made things even harder," he said. Fortunately, Frictional was able to work it out, and all that remains now is polish.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the game has changed since our April 2014 hands-on, in which audio logs activated by clicking on dead bodies were actually quite common, and also distracting: As previewer Samuel Roberts wrote, "They were overcooked, let down by recordings that I'm hoping are temporary or unfinished. Soma was far more effective when it let me piece together its story without people talking over it." That sounds like it's in line with Frictional's vision, and I hope the studio is able to achieve it.

There's still no launch date, but Grip said SOMA should be ready to go later this year.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.