This week’s free games on the Epic Games Store are SOMA, a survival horror game, and Costume Quest, a party-based RPG.
#1 – SOMA
SOMA is this week’s first game, a survival horror game developed by Frictional Games, developers of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The game starts off with you taking the reigns of the player character, Simon Jarrett. The opening cutscene of the game shows Simon having a nightmare, a memory of a near-fatal car crash, in which he survived but sustained major brain damage. He agrees to an experimental brain scan from the graduate student David Munshi, he travels to meet Munshi and finds a darkened empty office space, and must find his way through to the laboratory in which the brain scan will take place. Munshi assures that Simon the procedure is entirely safe and nothing will go wrong in the meantime. As the scan takes place, the screen goes dark. Simon suddenly awakes in a dark room, entirely different to the one he was in previously. As he explores he learns he alone is on an abandoned underwater research base named the PATHOS-II. At least he thinks he’s alone…
During my brief playthrough of SOMA, I had mixed feelings about the game. The atmosphere I got was excellent, being trapped on a darkened submarine base, with some form of hostile creature is a brilliant environment for a horror game. The mystery behind how you arrived and the situation at hand leaves you wondering and wanting to play further. However, I felt like a lot of the time I was playing I was just wandering aimlessly, as the game gives you no real direction of what to do. There are a few obstacles in your way that you have to overcome, but they aren’t really presented as puzzles and you’re not really given any objectives except wander until you find a point of interest. During my first ‘combat’ section, I came up against a slow moving creature, which was incredibly easy to avoid and didn’t require any major stealth tactics which I fell is where this game could really shine. I love the story and the visuals of the game to set up something really unnerving but I felt the general gameplay really lets this game down.
#2 – Costume Quest
The second game this week is Costume Quest, developed by Double Fine Productions. The premise of the game is that you play as either Reynold or Wren, a brother and sister duo, whose only aim is to get all the candy possible on Halloween. This plan is halted however when the non-playable character (in my case Wren) gets mistaken for a piece of candy as she is dressed as piece of candy corn, this inspires Reynold to go on a mission to find his sister, fighting through monsters and rival trick-or-treaters as he goes.
The game has two main gameplay modes, the first one is shown above, an isometric view in which you explore the neighbourhood in search of candy and completing objectives, the second is a turn-based combat system akin to games like Final Fantasy. the game blends between these styles of gameplay incredibly well. The game is obviously aimed towards younger audiences (hence the 7+ rating), but has comedic charm people of any age can enjoy.
Overall, I feel both of these games are worth playing while they’re free but I can’t personally say I’d pay full price for them. SOMA may be a good game for fans of the horror genre but I can’t say it’s a good jumping in point for new players. Costume Quest is a fun time-waster that lets you get your spook on even after Halloween is over.