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E3 2015: Getting submerged with SOMA

There's are strange happenings going down aboard an underwater research facility. As one of its employees, the task is to investigate what exactly is going on and what is causing these strange phenomena. This is the setup for SOMA, the latest jump into the sci-fi horror genre for the fright veterans at Frictional Studios. Expecting to get some scares, Shacknews went to E3 2015 to get some hands-on time with the game.

Oddly enough, there weren't a lot of scares to be found in the game's opening minutes. As one might expect, the opening is simply setting up what's ahead. The game begins with players taking the role of Simon, the man tasked with searching for the missing workers of the facility. Simon jumps into a part of the factory that's completely empty. There are locked doors that are tied to the facility's computer systems, which are locked behind an employee ID.

To go any further, I'd have to find an employee login laying around somewhere, but as I walked near the assembly line, I started hearing a voice call out. It sounded like a human voice calling out for help, so I assumed there was an NPC nearby. But after a quick search, it turned out that the voice was coming from a half-built robot stuck in the assembly line. I paid it no mind and wandered over to a master switch by the wall, assuming that turning out the power would help move the puzzle forward.

Imagine my shock when I pulled the switch and turned out the lights, only to hear the robot suddenly start crying out in total agony. He begged and pleaded to turn the switch back on, letting out blood-curdling shrieks of pain every few seconds. It got to be too much, so I flipped the switch back to how it was. The robot could then be heard sobbing uncontrollably, completely petrified at the prospect of any further suffering. It was quite an unsettling scene.

Following this, I found the employee ID on a fallen employee, long-assumed dead. It was interesting to find the name "Carl" on the ID, as "Carl" was who the assembly line robot was identifying himself as. Pondering the mystery, I opened the latch to head upstairs, only to find the chamber begin to fall apart and fill up with water. As the facility flooded, the idea was to find safety, just as the demo came to an end.

There have been other testimonies from colleagues that tried SOMA that the demo was hiding a demonic creature in that facility, but given that I opted to restart the power, it's likely that I didn't wind up releasing it from captivity. In the event that something harmful does come out, there's plenty to hide behind, like crates and tables. What there is not is a weapon or any other sort of self-defense tool, which has become a Frictional staple. If something dangerous comes out in SOMA, there are two options: run and hide.

This is just the beginning for what looks to be a captivating story of humanity, machinery, and a horrifying tale of when those two worlds blend together. There's definitely more to explore in SOMA, which is set to hit PC and PlayStation 4 on September 22.

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