19 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 1.5 hrs on record
Posted: Feb 18, 2019 @ 7:23am
Product received for free

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SOMOS is a fast-paced and minimalist score-chasing arcade game that could be potentially addictive for a lot of players. On top of that, it has a campaign with a series of levels and challenges to unlock in order to experience the simple game with many different twists. While it has a scoreless mode that is considered relaxing, the heavily timed elements will still make some people jumpy and nervous. The game is also available on Android with in-app purchases, so there's an opportunity to try the game before buying anything on Steam or Android. (The store page animations and gameplay trailer show tablet/touchscreen gameplay, but the mouse works just as well on PC.)

The RNG generation of levels means that your game will always feel a bit different, especially when you are tackling the Endless mode, which has a Steam leaderboard. Sometimes you will get lucky with a few breaks and be able to score better, other times, you will really hit a wall from the very beginning. The difficulty does vary based on what the spawned objects are and what you are comfortable dealing with.

The rules of the game are simple, and once you play, you will learn it quickly enough. The objective is simple, stay alive and prevent any objects from touching/hitting you. Your simplified sprite is a circle that moves between two halves of the screen. and while you are interacting with one side, your sprite moves to the other. So it's a need to simultaneously take care of what is going on with both sides of the screen while paying attention to the dangerous moving in. Trying to prioritize your actions becomes the most crucial aspect of the gameplay, and with that, timing of those actions.

The game is best played through the tutorial and attempts through the campaign, in my opinion. There are progressively increasing number of levels/challenges that unlock as you go, making the game so much more mind-bendingly complex. While you learn through playing the simple concept behind the game, the game then throws plenty of curve balls at you. The campaign even has boss-levels as well, that are surprisingly difficult. Those are the worst possible random encounters in the Endless mode as well, since you only have one life and bosses have been incredibly difficult for me to take on. (Currently stuck on Boss #3, and I think there are a total of 4?)

The challenges that you unlock will be queued up for you so that you will experience them once (and move on whether you beat it or not) in between regular levels. While this is nice in its own way, I wish the set up is a little different. This is especially noticeable when I tried to take on a few challenges after getting stuck on the campaign for a while. What ends up happening is every time I fail the challenge, the game automatically started the next unbeaten campaign level instead of giving me an option to retry the challenge. (Suggestion for improvement, either give the player a Yes/No option to retry a challenge after failing, or make it so that failures while taking on the challenges specifically from the challenges menu will relaunch the same challenge instead.)

While the Endless and Relaxation modes give you the option of picking the color scheme, the challenges have colors that are set in stone. Some of these are intentionally done in order to give you a lighter contrast to make it even more difficult, while a few of them were perhaps a bit too jarring and assaulting visually on my eyes. (I initially played and recorded a gameplay video on full-screen at 32 inches and 4K, some of the color combinations were more tolerable when I later played in windowed 2K and 1080P windows.) I feel that some people will purposefully not play a few of the challenges because of the color combinations.

Visually the game is simplistic, and it has a bit of a dream-state wavy/blurred lines all over as you play. This is the default setting and can be disabled by clicking the box labeled "High Performance" in the settings menu. This will give you much clearly lines and remove all of the waviness.

Here's my blind first-look video of the game:
https://youtu.be/hGYZrizgHFA

What my opinion was after playing the first half hour was needing time to sit back and think about the game, its gameplay, and to put together some thoughts. Usually I have a pretty solid idea of whether I like the game or not by that time, but this one I had to dive back in for a few more shorter play sessions in order to finalize my thoughts. Of course, after the first half hour, I was so confused by the basic rules and all of the challenges that I didn't even know what to think. The knots resolved after I gained a firmer grasp of the game later on and also by tackling the challenges one by one (of the ones I had unlocked.) I do have to say that it is a very neatly constructed game, and that it's really nice that someone can translate such simple ideas into such a fun game. The RNG level generation gives the player a new challenge each time, and it's fun having a leaderboard to try to climb. Each game only lasts a minute or two, if I am lucky, so I don't mind having some bad luck from time to time with the RNG as well.

Controls
Mouse to move cursor, click for some actions, click and drag for swipe actions. Touch-screen functionality works if you have it.

Graphics
Minimalist, vibrant (for the most part), though potentially seizure-inducing (there is a warning every time the game is launched).

Music
Very soothing undertone, that is barely noticeable while you are playing. Mostly you are paying attention to the sound effects from your own clicking actions. The sound effects are not jarring and don't feel overly redundant.

Audience
Not for people who cannot stand a series of timed actions, because there are a lot of those in this game.

Pricing
Base price is $7.99 USD. This is a bit high and would make people think twice or thrice before jumping in to play. For some people, this could be countless hours of entertainment in small sessions. My brain felt pretty fried after playing for about half hour, so that will probably be the longest sessions for me. Since each attempt (especially in Endless mode) will only be a minute or two when you are lucky, this is good for really short sittings as well. Overall I think the price is worth it for those who really get into it. For those wanting to find out more about the game, there is an Android version with in-app purchases [$4.99 each], so you can at least check out the game before deciding to buy.

Suggestions for Improvement
1. Please change the way challenges transition directly to the next unbeaten campaign level
2. It would be nice to have the ability to change colors on challenge levels as well.

Conclusion
SOMOS is a minimalist game that can be a game for hours of fun for the right player. For others, it's going to be very much rage-inducing. It's made very well and the different challenges will keep you busy for a long time. The Endless mode with the leaderboard is nice as well. RNG levels keep the game interesting. Controls are simple and interal rules are easy to learn. The challenges mess with the rules, giving rise to essentially a bunch of different smaller games. Some improvements could improve the QoL for players. My views of the game changed from neutral to positive the more I played, so I hope you will try out the game when you have an opportunity as well. (It might be something that is difficult to get used to, but the experience is worth your time in the end.)

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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8 Comments
YQMaoski Feb 19, 2019 @ 6:35pm 
I do think that the precision of the finger-touch probably works better than the mouse. I think it was primarily made for a touch-screen tap+swipe controls. But the mouse does play well enough. I agree, the audio works very well here, indeed.
SunlessMeridian Feb 19, 2019 @ 3:18pm 
The audio effects sound brilliant, although it does look to be the type of game I'd probably rather play on a tablet (like LYNE).
YQMaoski Feb 19, 2019 @ 1:50pm 
Don't give me too much credit! I am just verbose to no end. LOL! Anyway, I do write a lot about my own personal experiences and interactions with a game, so I know that it's not just a description of technical features. I just hope my words and feelings can help someone make a better informed decision about whether they should play a game. :-)
American Tragedy Feb 19, 2019 @ 10:39am 
It was very interesting to see how you managed to talk that much about the game, that doesn't look like a game that deserves so much attention at the first glance. This is something I really appreciate about the reviewers, when they are able to constructively talk about such small games!
YQMaoski Feb 19, 2019 @ 9:02am 
It's one of my reviews that hit the character limit and I had to cut back and trim stuff for it to fit. ;-)
American Tragedy Feb 19, 2019 @ 7:07am 
For some reason, this review felt a bit longer to read :)
YQMaoski Feb 18, 2019 @ 9:41am 
I do think of this as being a targeted-audience game, that's for sure. Everything happens very quickly here. Glad I was able to help you with some decisions. :-)
delenn13 Feb 18, 2019 @ 9:14am 
I did put this on my WL, but I amy remove it because of this..."Not for people who cannot stand a series of timed actions." It really looks like fun minimal game but for that one sticking point. Steam should add a "Maybe or Maybe Not" option.:lunar2019laughingpig: