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Frictional Wants to Postpone Death in ‘SOMA’

There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming year. If you’re a fan of the horror genre, there’s no shortage of horror games that are worth getting excited about. Of the myriad games we have on the way, the one I’m perhaps most looking forward to is SOMA — the next project from Amnesia developer Frictional Games.

Frictional Games creative director Thomas Grip recently took to the studio’s official blog to share his thoughts on a reaction video for Alien: Isolation. In it, players react with terror and relief when their character is captured and killed by the xenomorph. While Grip mentions the Alien: Isolation video specifically, he’s only using it as a jumping off point for his article — not as a criticism toward that game. Grip sees this as a problem for all horror games to avoid, including SOMA.

“If you watch the video you can see that the players aren’t being freaked out of their minds when they die. They’re laughing, and feeling relief. And the death sequence is non-interactive, which further enhances this sense of sitting back and becoming a spectator.”

Frictional Games is working on remedying this issue by postponing the player’s death, so as to prolong that feeling of suspense and anxiety as long as possible, because when the player dies, it gives them a brief reprieve from the horrors on-screen.

“The only proper solution is to make sure that death is postponed. Outlast has a monster that throws you to one side, giving you a chance to run off, a mechanic that works well in its story. Daylight has damage build up on the screen, which gives you time to escape. Both of these are great ways of extending the terror. Some kind of death must happen sooner or later, though, or the player will quickly realize that the monster is harmless – and that’s no good at all. When death occurs I think it’s important to remove this sense of repetition. For instance, in Amnesia we changed the map a bit after each death (which in some cases led to additional scares).”

I’m glad he brought up Outlast, as I’ve always felt that game handles death in a smart way. In related news, Outlast: Whistleblower released today, and I hear it’s pretty good.

SOMA arrives on PC and PS4 in 2015.




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