Thursday, 30 November 2017

What is SOMA's Safe Mode?

Tomorrow we will be releasing SOMA for Xbox One and along with this comes Safe Mode. This is a new way of playing the game that will also be available via Steam and GOG at the same time.

Since we announced Safe Mode there have been a lot of questions about it, so we thought this would be a good time to answer some of those and to clear up a few things. Here goes:


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.


I hope that clears things up! Let us know in the comments if you have any other questions!



35 comments:

  1. Cool update Thomas! How's the search for a community manager going? Any promising candidates?

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  2. Will this unlock achievements/trophies?

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    1. Yeah achievement will work the same in both modes.

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  3. Are there any other corrections?

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    1. Some minor bug fixes. Mostly some weird places where you can fall outside of a level.

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  4. Is there a foreseeable Safe Mode for your other games perhaps?

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    1. If we have time and we figure out a good way too approach it, then perhaps.

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  5. Love the idea. I was happy enough with the monsters, but this sounds a great way to play the game. Really hoping observing the monsters safely will be really interesting.

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  7. So do you mean that monsters will interact with the player In a different way? Or just ignore them?

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    1. It depends on the monster. I want to leave the ways secret so people can be surprised. It is more than simply ignoring the player though.

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  8. Even tho i'm sure this will be opcional, IMO i think is not a good thing, and i hope this is not something that will affect the future gameplay decisions of your next horror based games if any, your horror games to me and I speak for my self, are fantastic because of the tension and fear they convey and that is tied exclusively to the monsters and not the stories, the stories are good but they alone were not what made me continue playing to the end. For example the water monster from amnesia wouldn't be nothing, if it couldn't kill the character, but ended being one of the most memorable parts of the game to me, that tension has i run way was awesome, the worm from Penumbra has well, running and hiding from the monsters was a VERY important part of the experience to me, for that reason alone Soma and Machine for pigs are my lest favorite. After saying this i'm sure some are saying i'm a action guy, for the contrary, i loved Dear Easther, i loved the vanishing of Ethen Carter, etc, but those where games exclusively made to experience the story, a frictional games horror game to me in the other end is a different thing entirely. Another reason is i'm not a native English speaker and so "story" is something that sometimes i take a long time to really appreciate.

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    1. SOMA was a life-changing game for me and I played on Wuss mode.

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    2. Good for you, i hope it changed for the better.

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    3. It's worth remembering the one of the greatest horror games of all time Silent Hill 2 also had a safe mode. It was called beginner mode and it made you invincible. Soma and Amnesia aren't even that hard when you think about it but they are too scary for some people to enjoy. I wouldn’t recommend ever starting a horror game with this kind of mode but it’s a nice option to fall back on if things get too much. I Hope Frictional add ity in their other games. I would actually reply Amnesia if it had a mode like this in it.

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  10. After the update, the Russian language broke down.

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    1. Just uploaded a fix to steam. Please let us know if it works!

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    2. Now everything works. Thank you Thomas.

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  11. As a shameless wuss who nonetheless adores the story and the characters of Soma (and the environment, and the themes...) I just want to say I really appreciate Frictional going out of their way to create a whole new mode for a two-year old game, even taking into account the Xbox release. It sounds like a lot of thought has been put into the best way to provide a different gameplay experience that nonetheless still hits the same critical notes emotionally, and I'm looking forward to hopefully managing to complete the game for myself.

    Plus it'll be an interesting psychological experiment. Just how much fear goes away with the knowledge that I can't "die", considering of course I was never in any real danger to begin with? Hmm.

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    1. yes is a real interesting experiment even if i don't personally like this, feels like a cheat to me, but one thing is true, your character specially in Amnesia never really "die" at lest not how i comprehend dying in other games.

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    2. (Same anon as above, ftr) - I mean, it is insofar as it dials down the major gameplay challenge of Soma. I don't really have any issue acknowledging that. Safe mode is easier, end of story, and I think anyone who can play the game on normal mode should, at least the first time around.

      I admit I'm a little puzzled as to why people object to the existence of safe mode in general, though. It doesn't replace normal mode, and as Frictional point out in their blog it's also coming out two years post-release so it doesn't muddy the waters of the original atmosphere and intent. All it does is open up the game to people who want to focus on the narrative and environment. Trust me, I've watched the LPs - things inevitably get missed when you're having to scuttle around dodging the monsters, and Soma has such a rich environment and narrative that it's lovely to be able to take time and/or actually play it for yourself at all.

      As for the results of the psychological experiment? I have successfully made it further than I ever have before, and have largely pinpointed it as a significant lessening of the fear of being chased. Two thumbs up for safe mode from the wuss corner!

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  12. Hey Thomas, have you ever considered releasing the vertical slice maps and the trailer map as modding resources? Maybe even the old lambda map and what other unreleased stuff you have.

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  13. Will your save games work with this? That is, can I start one of my saved games and set it to safe mode in there?

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    1. Afraid not. Safe mode changes too much to allow that.

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  14. I do not know what to ask, but I really want to. By this I'll just say - thanks!

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  15. You guys need to convince Konami to let you make the next Silent Hill game. I would die of a stroke I would be so excited to play it.

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  16. Sounds great. Some people like me are stimulated by danger to rush somewhat, missing a lot of content.
    Please look into implementing it into your future games, love you guys.

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  17. Is there still a chance for SOMA to be a physical release for the Xbox or PS4?

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  18. Awesome. Since this solves the problem of people not finishing a game that's too scary and not telling a cohesive, full story because of that... Can we go in the other direction and get extra hard modes too? I appreciated the more cerebral horror of SOMA and to a lesser extent AMFP, but they didn't give me the pure physical terror that being out of oil and tinderboxes in the Amnesia prison areas, which honestly is the most a video game has ever affected me.

    In SOMA I thought a lot about how horrific everything was, which was great. But in Amnesia, despite the fact it wasn't nearly as clever and well-told, I FELT how horrific it was and to me that seems to be the thing that video games can do that film and literature can't.

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  19. I appreciate this feature very much. Could you please implement it in your next release?

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