How SOMA's New Safe Mode Will Work For The Terrifying Underwater Title

The terrifying sci-fi masterpiece from the minds behind Amnesia called SOMA is making its way from [...]


The terrifying sci-fi masterpiece from the minds behind Amnesia called SOMA is making its way from PC to the Xbox One. The game itself received "Overwhelmingly Positive" reviews on Steam, so it's no wonder that many are excited to check out the robotic horror adventure themselves when it makes its way over to the Microsoft console.

The story centers around identity and what it means to be human with a narrative driven by desperation, isolation, and pure terror in the ocean's depths. Essentially, the game is ... it's incredible. Intricate, immersive, challenging - because of that, the Xbox One version will implement a new "Safe Mode" to make the experience a little more bearable for the weenies (me, I'm the weenie).

The philosophically complicated title offers a unique narrative intertwined with horror elements. But with the Safe Mode taking all of the horror out of the horror title, many were wondering how exactly this new mode would work. Would it just essentially become an underwater simulator? Well, sort of.

The SOMA creators sat down to discuss the new mode in detail before the game's launch on this generation on December 1st. Here's what Frictional Games had to say about the change to make players impervious to death:

What is Safe Mode?
It is a version of the game where you cannot die - you are safe from harm. The game's various creatures are still there, they just won't attack you. If you've heard of the SOMA Steam mod "Wuss Mode", by steam user The Dreamer, then you should know the basic idea. The important thing to point out is that we don't simply turn off the creature's ability to attack and harm you. Instead, we've redesigned their behavior. Our goal has been for Safe Mode to not feel like a cheat, but for it to be a genuine way of experiencing the game. So we've considered what each creature should be doing, given their appearance, sound, and voice.

Is the game still scary?
This obviously depends on what scares you, but the short answer is: yes, the game is still a horror game. However, since you can explore without a constant fear of failure, you will no longer have that type of tension. For people who aren't great at handling that aspect of horror gameplay, their journey through SOMA will be a lot easier in Safe Mode. But if it is the overall atmosphere that gets to you in a horror game - and, above all, the central themes - then game will still have plenty to be scared of.

What is the major difference in gameplay?
All of the puzzles, events, and so forth are still there. The big difference is that you'll no longer have to sneak past enemies. You don't need stealth in order to complete the game. Monsters might sound and act more threatening if they spot you, so there is still an incentive to being careful, but it's no longer mandatory to keep hidden. This will also allow you to explore some of environments more carefully.
Why release it now?
We actually considered releasing something similar at launch, but chose not to because we felt it would make the core intent of the game too unfocused. As people started to say that they really wanted to play the game and experience the philosophical sci-fi narrative, but couldn't because of the monsters, we started considering doing something about it. People liking the "Wuss Mode" mod was a good sign that we could solve this. However going back to a game you have already completed is not tempting so we put it off.

What eventually tipped the scales was the Xbox release where we wanted an extra feature to make the launch more interesting. Adding some sort of no-monster mode felt like the best option, and so Safe Mode was born! It also felt like it had been long enough since the original release, and the intended version of the game had been played and evaluated enough. Adding a new play mode wouldn't be a problem.

Will it come to PS4?
Yes! We hope to have it ready about 2 months from now. Sorry for not releasing it now, but a couple of issues have kept us from doing a simultaneous launch of Safe Mode.

It will be interesting to see this game in a new dynamic ... part of its terrifying charm was the horror aspects. But the puzzles themselves were incredibly intriguing, so seeing those unaffected is a huge sigh of relief for SOMA fans.

SOMA releases on Xbox One December 1st.