Our world is in danger. After many years of slowing killing it the has time has finally come for us to evacuate very soon. We are looking for other plants to move humanity to. You have been chosen to be part of a special team of scientists tasked with looking for other inhabitable planets. Many before you have failed and you are a last-ditch attempt at saving humanity. So of course your rocket crashes onto the surface of a planet! This is the back story to The Solus Project a survival horror game that takes place on an alien planet. Can you survive and be humanity’s last hope or will we die just as quickly as you will?
The game starts out with you choosing either a male or female protagonist. The game is full of choice but I hadn’t noticed the repercussions of this choice other than player preference, as it should be. In fact all other choices I made had to do with my survival and how I wanted to approach it. This leads to a very interesting risk reward system. Do you carry food and water for when you get thirsty or hungry? Or do you carry craftable objects like pipes and electronics to make something more? You start with only a few open inventory slots but can expand them by picking up backpacks scattered across the world from other wreckage. In fact a little bit of excitement comes over you every time you see a downed rocket as it means there are goodies and supplies for you. How you prioritize those new slots is entirely up to you. The only noticeable repercussions to your choices seem to be your own survival and by proxy humanity’s survival.
When you first crash, you wake up among the wreckage of your rocket, with the thrusters still burning. You should immediately start looking for items among the scattered remains of your ship. There are pipes, rocks, canned food and metal water bottles. Believe it or not every one of these objects is useful and you’ll come to find you need to carry them with you, sometimes in multiples. Water is a one time deal and the bottles need to be refilled almost regularly at water sources scattered throughout the world. Canned food needs to be opened somehow and it’s your job to figure out how otherwise you’ll starve to death. You’ll also need to stay warm so you’ll need to learn to start a fire otherwise you’ll catch hypothermia. Rain, tornadoes and other natural disasters are all perils you will run into on your journey, so stay alive. Once you’re cozy you’ll need to get some sleep or you can die of sleep deprivation. You will spend the rest of the game keeping up with basic human needs in order to cement your survival. I thought this was a very clever mechanic that other games in the genre don’t take advantage of and really made you feel like death was around every corner. It almost plays out like an intergalactic version of Naked and Afraid minus the nudity.
I know what you’re thinking at this point, I can not play the game and do those things on my own preset player character that I call myself. The Solus Project offers a vast sense of exploration to go with it. Huge beaches and mountainsides to explore and try to find a suitable place for the human race to call home. I won’t spoil the story but there is plenty to see and do across multiple islands and caves. The greatest trick the game pulls off is the sense of a huge open world while being totally linear. You are free to explore the world but your next objective is usually along the beaten path. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact it’s quite impressive considering you never really feel forced onto the path. I would say that you feel compelled to travel the path more than anything else. Along the way you will find plenty of puzzles, forcing you to think outside the box on some of them. I think this adds a whole other level to the feeling of survival that the game pulls off so well. Last but not least the graphics are gorgeous. The level of detail put into making the world seem foreign to humanity is top-notch, all while keeping a sense of something familiar. Great job Teotl Studio and Grip Games. You know you’ve made an impressive experience when graphics are the last thing I mentioned and they are just as fantastic as everything else.
All in all I have to say I really enjoyed my time playing The Solus Project. It gave me the feeling of what it would really be like if I crash landed alone on another planet. The atmosphere has a very creepy underlying ambience to it and I loved it. You always get the feeling that something just isn’t right. The game does such a good job of making you feel like you’re about to die that you aren’t even upset that the game doesn’t really have enemies per say. There is no direct combat in the game whatsoever and to be honest it doesn’t need it. The developers did such a great job crafting the game I didn’t miss it at all. This is a true gem of a game and I highly recommend it. Especially considering it’s only $20. The game definitely has an indie feel but enough of a big budget vibe that they could have justified raising the cost and I still would recommend it. Just overall a very solid experience.
Score: 8.5 out of 10 Great!