Tag Archives: gameplay

S.O.M.A. Guide – Part 1 – Upsilon Confusion

[spoilers ahead]

So.. I decided to play S.O.M.A. again. A taste of survival horror, elements of cyberpunk, a game filled with puzzles, interesting dialogues and a profound exploration of the human and non-human intellect.

After a car crash – Simon Jarrett  – deals with brain damage, his brain starts bleeding now and then. Seems that various treatments do not work for his condition so he decides to seek further available options for prolonging his life. His condition could be fatal if a cure is not found. So – he gets in contact with a facility that could scan his brain in order to develop a more suitable treatment. Unfortunately this treatment has no efficiency and as later told in the game, Simon finds out he died almost 100 years ago and that he is able once again to function because the brain scan he did was used as a template for an A.I. model – him waking up on Pathos-II facility.

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PATHOS-II is an underwater research facility located in the Atlantic Ocean during the 2100s. It is the primary setting of both SOMA and the live-action prequel mini-series and film Transmission and Depth.

It was initially built to conduct thermal mining during the 2060s and, later, developed the Omega Space Gun. It has a diverse staff of scientists and engineers involved in multiple research projects such as marine sciences, hydroculture, and deep sea construction. An artificial intelligence known as the WAU was used to oversee primary operations of the facility.

When a comet impact in January 2103 rendered the surface of the Earth barren and killed all surface life, the staff of PATHOS-II became the last living humans on the planet. Knowing they would not be able to survive indefinitely, they began searching for alternative ways to extend their lives and ultimately, save what remains of the human race – the ARK program being among them. Not much is known about the events that followed, but eventually machines previously operated remotely by humans began to become self-aware and started to exhibit human traits. The facility eventually descended into the nightmarish state seen during the events of the game.

Opening your eyes, waking up alone, trapped in darkness. That is how the horrifying story of SOMA really starts. You wake up in the Upsilon site – which  contains the facility’s primary power generation plant. Geothermal boreholes are used to generate electricity. Upsilon also contains extensive facilities used to service and maintain PATHOS-II’s collection of robots and Universal Helpers.

Soma 2016-08-13 15-12-55-14You start exploring these dark rooms, hearing distant weird noises and seeing shadows that disappear an re-appear. You find how to work with the Omnitool.

The Omnitool is a small handheld computer, originally used by PATHOS-II’s staff to open doors and access areas requiring maintenance. It has two chip slots: one for a Tool Chip, which grants additional functions and security clearances, and one for a Cortex Chip, which is used to download an A.I. into the Omnitool. If no Cortex Chip is inserted, the Omnitool has a pre-loaded AI (“Helper Jane”).

The cortex chip can also contain a brain scan, granting it the personality and memories of the person scanned. The Omnitool lacks the necessary computational resources to run brain scan simulations on its own, and must be docked to a terminal in order to do so. Catherine Chun describes this experience as a continuous, but disjointed consciousness with no perception or awareness of the time that passes in between simulations.

The Omnitool cannot be used to override security protocols that it lacks the clearance to access. In these cases, a new Tool Chip must be inserted to update the Omnitool’s security clearances.

The Omnitool can be operated either by swiping it in front of a sensor or by directly docking it to a computer terminal. The latter option allows the brain scan on the device’s Cortex Chip, if present, to directly interface with the PATHOS-II mainframe.

Soma 2016-08-13 15-46-43-12Moving further in the game you make contact with several robots who don’t even realize they are robots. At first, even Simon sees himself as being human, being normal. But slowly things start to change perspectives. He first makes contact with Catherine Chun who will direct him from site Upsilon to site Lambda, in order to discover further truths about this research facility. You are being attacked by a Construct.

This creature appears to be a horrific jumbled mess of a UH3 Universal Helper maintenance unit and WAU techno-organic growth. Structure Gel mutations have given the Helper a much bulkier build, with a bigger backside and more reinforced structure, as well as added functionality, allowing the Helper to make use of a pair of legs to navigate. Along with the small lights emitting from the numerous bulbous growths on its body, the Helper casts a bright beam from the front of its face, acting as a spotlight to assist with navigation through dark areas.

Soma 2016-08-13 16-05-27-65You get to explore the bottom of the ocean – wondering how are you going to find the right way to the next checkpoint. You rescue a little Universal Helper which will show his gratitude by offering you access to a block door in order to continue. You discover that the machines are taking control over the humans lost in this abandoned place and they will not let them die. It is a sign that the A.I. in this place, the master brain of the disaster wants everything to be fully functional, no matter what.

Finally you get to site Lambda only to discover that Catherine is also a brain scan trapped into a computer. But will all that, she will be the protagonist’s companion and will offer useful tips and information.

For a full written walkthrough, you can access these links if you have problems in finishing any of the game’s levels.

Simon Jarrett’s Apartment

Subway Cinematic

Dr. Munshi’s Laboratory

Pathos-II Awakening

Upsilon Puzzles

Bottom Of The Ocean

Upsilon Shuttle Station

[next article – S.O.M.A. Guide – Part 2 – Lambda Atrocities]

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Gaming 101: Amnesia The Dark Descent

 

Fans of the horror genre will definitely love this title.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is an unique and intensive survival horror first person adventure game. The amount of things that makes this game great is unlimited.

After waking up in an old abandoned castle, without remembering anything, the main character [Daniel] start a trip of finding out the truth. Just like the Penumbra series, this game puts the accent on mental heath and stability. You cannot battle against the villains but you can run and hide, while the enemy is seeking for you.

Exploring is all you have to do in order to start conquering the unimaginable. A very creepy atmosphere surrounds you. Dark colors and tones, dust, lights coming in various shapes that scare you, different monuments, strange sounds, voices and screams, revelations and memories – a bunch of elements that help creating a dark environment.

After waking up you must follow a blood trail – the only thing that stirs your imagination at the moment. Movement in the corner of the eye, which is gone when you look more carefully, wind blowing up, doors opening and closing, sounds of footsteps, birds singing in a creepy manner, voices coming from dark corners, invisible foes – what else do you want more?

By adding adventure elements and puzzles to the story, this game is able to offer you a great dosage of fun. You are kinda trapped. You don’t know where you’re going and what are those scary whispers that come from dark corners. You must stay alive no matter what. When an enemy is approaching, your nerves are getting weak. You must find a safe spot. You can stay hidden in dark areas of halls and rooms, you can use the surroundings to create a barricade and hide.

Sometimes you will have to make things work, light up important zones, find alternative paths – all while trying to find out what really is going on.

When you encounter this thing [picture left] you stop thinking and RUN. This creature visited me while I was spending some time looking for clues on how to get past some blocked passage. Trust me, the hallway was poor lighted and it came out of nowhere making strange noises. The best way to avoid confrontation is to be prepared for this kind of situation. You have to close doors behind you, you must secure zones, use the lights strategically.

When you are on the flooded archive halls, you will have a not so pleasant surprise. Stay away from the water, cuz this attracts a very powerful enemy. It gave me the creeps. You only see some footsteps on the water – you cannot see the thing that attacks you. You will have to use the environment and your agility in order to escape from this damned path. It’s like a demonic labyrinth. You just have to pay attention to whatever surrounds you.

Gaming 101: Portal 2 [part 1]

It’s been a long time…

And finally – the unexpected occurred…Portal 2 became a reality – and I thank God for it.

This article will explain and comment parts from every chapter of the game..why I like it and for what reasons.

There are spoilers in here so before continuing reading…you should play the game.

Okay…you monster…let’s put our differences behind us..for science.

Portal 2 being the sequel to the first Valve game to introduce us to Aperture Science – it’s about applying the laws of gravity and using the environment to gain advantage in order to reach different checkpoints.

Testing…a word the Valve team became legendary for. From the old-school Half-Life to our 2011 game – testing was a subject of putting one’s brain to work.

In the first chapter you encounter Wheatley – which is going to become a most powerful tool [if I might say].

Also, through his plans – he will revive GLadOS. Now…the testing will begin. You will be surprised to see the old Portal Testing Chambers [which are in ruins] along with new, better ones.

GLadOS will be not happy about you killing her [which obviously was just an electrical interruption and not real death].

Test after test, we gain knowledge about GLadOS’ new plans for the Aperture Science Facility [which is now presented as a huge complex].

Putting aside the sarcasm and the cruel jokes..let’s ride the elevator to the break-room and talk about the time I saw a deer.

But before reaching that point, we just have to talk about the new impressive elements of Portal 2. The Aerial Faith Plate is one of them. This device let’s you jump high and reach different points that usually are not accessible.

The laser cube is very useful and you can use it to redirect laser beams and open doors or activate lifts.

About the difficulty I can say it is moderate…if you are smart enough you can easily observe the elements of the puzzle you have to resolve. By the way – I managed to find alternative solutions to one test – so everything is relative but acceptable.

More about the plot and other Valve unique marks in the second part of this article.

[to be continued…]