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I sat motionless in the dark wanting to puke for an hour after watching an entire playthrough of this. What makes this game so terrifying is not just the creepy monsters chasing you around, but the awfully chilling and disturbing implications that the game throws at you as you run around as the protagonist. It’s more psychological, existential horror than just random jump scares. You enter the first-perspective view of a man named Simon who wakes up in the year 2104 in some kind of underwater research facility, and of course, he is just as lost as you are. The last time he was conscious, he was living in 2015, but after a car crash, he has woken up almost a hundred years into the future. Apparently, there had been a worldwide extinction from a comet, and the remaining humans are a bunch of scientists who had already been in the facility before it crashed into the earth — except those very scientists are now mysteriously dead too, leaving you almost all alone. As Simon, your only company is the voice of a woman named Catherine who has been copied as a brain scan. The only way out of a dying, withering Earth is to launch the ARK, a spacecraft that copies human brain scans into a virtual, safe haven reality. However, you as the player, have to guide Simon around hostile, biomechanical organisms and make tough decisions regarding morality and the true meaning of humanity.

What makes this game related to the D&D class is the very important element of clones. Cloning/copying consciousness is a big thing in this game — like the final punchline of Soma revolves around copies. Simon will continuously state his disgust of the conscious-cloning throughout the story, and as you reach the end, there’s an awful, haunting thought that wonders how human you are alongside copies of yourself. How much is humanity worth in the grand scheme of things? When we compare ourselves to clones, copied brain scans, and other “non-human” beings, who is really more deserving of life? In what ways do we try to reject validations of life from other beings, especially when their existence threatens the validity of our own?

The real deal starts at 1 : 28. Then the “happy” ending is at 7:25.

So what exactly is it that makes the ending of Soma so existentially horrific? Yes, our Simon has been left behind on earth, all alone, but there’s something much more existentially disturbing here. By the end of the game, Simon has been copied and cloned many, many times — whether through brain scans or body changes. But with each transfer over, Simon becomes less and less human — abandoning real, human bodies in exchange for artificial ones, and eventually, is reduced to almost nothing but a bodiless brain scan in a virtually-made world within a tiny satellite floating aimlessly in space. In their race to desperately preserve the last shards of humanity — humanity, in the end, isn’t even human. This game alone, is enough to unsettle our understanding of what humanity even is, and what it’s even worth. It pokes holes into our blanket of security: “humanity” — what we use to alienate other living beings and justify our actions, making us hesitant towards our own existence and worth.

There are many doubles of humans following the protagonist throughout the game — Catherine, literal copies of Simon, brain scans of various people, robots, the creatures of the WaU, the WaU itself — are all existing with the purpose to be as human as possible. It’s easy to dismiss these all as lifeless beings programmed to simulate emotions, simply because they aren’t human.


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