Soma's upcoming 'Safe Mode' promises fear-free exploration (Updated)

Soma is a first-person horror game from the crew that made Amnesia: The Dark Descent, so even without the details at hand you can imagine how it goes: Not well at all, especially if you don't like horror games. A "Wuss Mode" mod came out in September of last year that rendered its monsters harmless, but that was both unofficial and not entirely perfect, since they remained in place and continued to cause the "screen freak out" effect when encountered. 

Soon, however, those of you who want to explore Frictional's undersea nightmare without having to deal with the actual "nightmare" part will be able to do so with the studio's blessing and aid. Soma is being released for the Xbox One on December 1, and on that same day an update will be rolled out for the PC version that will include a new "safe mode." 

Frictional didn't say how the new mode will work, whether it will eliminate enemies entirely or just prevent them from attacking, but it's a good idea either way. We described Soma in our review as "a masterpiece of audio and visual design ... atmospheric [and] cerebral," which sounds like the kind of experience an awful lot of us would enjoy—just maybe not without all the murky, inhuman terrors lurking in every corner.

Making Soma easier to swallow isn't the only thing Frictional's been getting up to lately: In September the studio confirmed that it has two new projects on the go, one in the early stages of development and the other in "full production." And yes, it will be "horrific."   

Update: Soma creative director Thomas Grip explained in an email that the new "Safe Mode" option will work in a fashion similar to that of the Wuss mod: The monsters generally won't be a threat, but they'll remain in the game as "atmospheric elements that react to the player in various ways."

"We actually put quite a bit of work into this aspect and made sure that the monsters should still feel like a part of the experience. So it is not like they work like normal except they don't attack. In fact, some monsters may get aggravated if the player gets to close to them," Grip said.

"The difference is the player can never die from these encounters, nor do  the monsters actively seek to harm the player. The goal was to have these non-lethal creatures walking about, but still dissuade the player from messing around too much with them. Soma relies a lot on the world feeling dangerous, and we wanted to keep that aspect."

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.