Frictional Games has released another live-action short teasing their yet-to-be formally announced next project, SOMA.
Between the first video, titled “Vivarium,” which went up last week, and this new video, it seems likely that SOMA will be a sci-fi horror adventure title that explores the intersection of consciousness, reality, and artificial intelligence. The new short (embedded below), is appropriately titled “Mockingbird,” and for the sake of not spoiling how delightfully unsettling and creepy it is as times, I will withhold from typing up a summary like I might otherwise do.
Frictional Games is known for their work on the Penumbra series and more recently 2010’s Amnesia: Dark Descent, which was met with critical acclaim. A sequel, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, was released last month, developed by The Chinese Room (makers of Dear Esther and the upcoming PS4 exclusive Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture).
The devs at Frictional games are known for their emphasis on storytelling, particularly through environmental exploration, in favor of—for lack of better term—more “traditional” gameplay mechanics (read: running, gunning, murdering). In a post on the company’s official dev blog about the five core elements of interactive storytelling, Frictional Games creative director Thomas Grip cited titles such as Thirty Flights of Loving, To The Moon, and Gone Home as “coming the closest” to fulfilling the elements he outlines in the post: focus on storytelling, most of the time is spent playing, interactions must make narrative sense, no repetitive actions, and no major progression blocks.
“I think they show the path forward,” Grip wrote. “If we want to improve interactive storytelling, these are the sort of places to draw inspiration from. Also, I think it is quite telling that all of these games have gotten both critical and (as far as I know) commercial success. There is clearly a demand and appreciation for these sort of experiences.”