This week's Xbox One release of underwater horror game SOMA includes a new mode that dramatically changes monster behaviour to keep the player safe. Safe from the monsters anyhow.
SOMA's Safe Mode, also available on PC through an update, removes death from the game by changing monster AI. It's a similar idea to the Wuss Mode mod released last year but more comprehensive and official.
Frictional Games, makers of SOMA, Amnesia and Penumbra, have released a blog post addressing some of the questions people may have about the new game mode.
The biggest and most obvious question: 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."
The central themes and overall atmosphere of SOMA are left intact, even without the persistent fear of death. The puzzles are unchanged, although players will no longer need to sneak their way past monsters (unless they want to). "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."
Tucked at the end of the blog post is an announcement that Frictional is working to include Safe Mode on the PS4 version of SOMA. Players can expect the mode early next year.
Update - The original version of this article erroneously said that a PS4 version of SOMA was coming next year. SOMA is already available on PS4.