Sunday, October 04, 2015

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Soma Edition

SPOILERS. Massive spoilers for Soma. Yes indeed.

What six changes would I make to Soma to make it a worthwhile story? This would be just story changes, obviously I'd want the atmosphere fixed to be properly immersive and fitting of the horror genre, and various mechanics fixed/changed to make sense or have a proper explanation (monsters teleporting, the stupid color-separating vision crap when hurt, enough with the cheap jump scares, etc). But yes, this is about the story, and my six changes to make it work:

1. The entire story about the comet destroying the surface world is exactly that: a story. Something Catherine made up to fool other people in Pathos-II, and now you.

2. The structure gel is a deep-sea discovery with unexpected properties (possibly including an eons-old intelligence of some sort), not a human creation. It thus corrupted WAU, which was a decent AI for life support systems before the structure gel got ahold of it.

3. How you end up specifically in Reed's body gets explained properly at some point in the game. Example: she was stuck in a dying robot body and tried to resurrect herself in her old body, failed because her scan was corrupted, and desperately loaded any scan she could find into her body instead... which is you.

4. The ARK is a fairy tale and actually an attempt for WAU to get to the upper atmosphere and infect the surface world via weather patterns, or something along those lines.

5. Catherine's brain scan has been incorporated into WAU to become the main villain, but the version helping you is pretending to be on your side, and lying to you about pretty much everything. There would be bigger hints the further you get into the game that she is screwing you over.

6. The player character is not Simon, and can in fact be a silent protagonist... or at least someone who is not a complete trusting idiot.

And it goes without saying that the game should not be a goddamned dream and there should be no obvious hints to insinuate that it is a dream. I don't know if that counts as an honorable mention or what... but anyways, there we have it. My six changes, and the plot that I was actually hoping was going on as I played the game (not counting throwing Simon's character out entirely because the game sticks you with him whether you like it or not).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It took me so long to come across this!
Frictional really should have just made SOMA narrative-based sci-fi psychological horror.
The dumb "haunted house" Amnesia-type horror and gameplay that you like doesn't work with the story, but they tried to force it into the plot anyway, thus why you don't like it.
Now that I've made an awesome first impression, a counter diatribe(sort of?)
Point 1:
I don't get it.
Fool them into what? Killing off the last of the human race? Becoming robot scans so she can control them and force them to be her friends? And which Catherine? If you meant the organic (murdered) Catherine, how would that Catherine go about having the authority or social engineering skill to pull this off? She was definitely smart enough to program the ARK, but you know she can't deal with people, much less trick anyone who's not an imperfect/flat helper AI template scan like Simon(the explanation for why he's a flatter and more obedient character-wise as opposed to the WAU style brain-scanned characters. Even I got that from seeing the game story through once and I'm a goddamned idiot. How did you not gather that?)

I'm sorry, you keep making mistakes and trying to sound smart while you're doing it and I want to agree with you but the arguments you make are wrong.

Point 2: Then the structure gel would basically be nanomachine-based ADAM from Bioshock with killer sci-fi beasts from System Shock along for the ride.
Point 3: It is explained, in a companion Youtube series called Transmissions in addition to the death screen (no really).
This is a point in your favor actually, since a game shouldn't have to make you read/watch extras just to understand story.
Point 4: Infect it...So it can control the weather like the Sentinels from the Matrix? As if the sea creature aesthetic cyberpunk and constructed dreamworld didn't evoke that enough?
Point 5: That was actually a first draft plan, that she would be the AI villain, I think. Like SHODAN. From System Shock.
It's a cheap and tired twist, and again SOMA has enough story similarity to System Shock. This is why they wrote the game and not you, even if the gameplay doesn't match the tone.
Point 6: Refer to above about being System Shock. Again, there is in-story justification why he's so complacent just like the massive spoiler reason why the story of Bioshock was linear to the point where it was a deconstruction.
Anyway I spent way too much time responding to something you very likely stopped caring about, and so will I after I leave, but I just wanted to get it off my mind so I can stop caring properly.
I was all ready to agree with you except almost every argument you make against it is wrong and/or already explained.

A lot of your complaints can simply be boiled down to "This isn't Amnesia!"
It really isn't.
It's meant to be a slow and melancholy cyberpunk-y exploration of human identity and consciousness because as Frictional Games stated, they came to hate the shallow haunted house ride/B-movie feeling of Amnesia and wanted to make something that was actually intelligent and asked questions. While still trying to keep gameplay from the haunted house ride.
So, of course you don't like it.

Alfred A. Butthurt