The Solus Project First Impressions
The world has come to an end. The great big ball of fire in the sky we call the sun has had enough and decided to expand and burn the earth. Luckily the human race thought ahead and launched a group of ships into space to find a new place. You are on one of these ships when it blasted out of space by someone, or something, and crash land on the alien planet below. You awaken and stumble from your wrecked escape pod on to this planet's beach. Many questions are running through your mind. Where am I? Who shot me out of the sky? And how come in every survival game you always start on the beach?
It is strange though, right? Your ship goes down and of all the places it lands turns out to be the now very established beach area trope of every survival game. It is a very nice beach though. That is one of the first things that will grab your attention with The Solus Project, its stunning environments. From its opening beach with its Giant's Causeway style basalt columns to the alien-like labyrinths that you later find yourself in, you will be awed by how detailed it all is. Each environment begs you to explore further than the marked paths.
Exploration is made that little bit easier with the help of two devices. The first is the smart phone/PDA looking machine Wilson, which is either named after the volleyball from Cast Away or the explorer Edward Adrian Wilson. Wilson will keep track of your stats such as hunger, thirst and tiredness. It will then proceed to scream at you if any of the stats become too low. Like a mother nagging you to eat your greens or get to bed, Wilson has got your back. The other device is a teleporter that suspiciously looks like the short range teleporter from the original Unreal Tournament capture the flag game mode. This teleporter is an explorer’s dream. Anywhere you can’t jump? Just fling the teleporter and if it manages to land correctly you can teleport to it. The developers have really embraced the explorative side with plenty of places off the beaten track for you to find hidden treasures and many great sights.
Not much comes in the form of an enemy in The Solus Project. The survival elements will kill you as if you don’t sleep on a regular basis or drink and eat on a regular basis it will start affecting your health. On this alien planet the only thing you really need to be concerned about is the weather. This isn’t a situation where you forget your umbrella and get caught in the worst rainstorm before a big meeting either. This is a killer tornado that is born to hunt you down. Think that tornado from the movie Twister and you are on the right track. When the sky darkens and Wilson starts to scream at you that danger is incoming you had better run. That tornado is out for blood. It is actually pretty scary when it shows up as well. You also have a meteor storm as well and when it first happens it is terrifying with debris falling all around you. The sound effects are especially effective when the meteors are exploding right next to you.
Being a survival game means that The Solus Project, surprisingly, has some survival elements to it. You have your usual survival fare on display here. Hunger, sleep, thirst and warmth all come into play to affect you in one way or another. Once again it is strange how you land on an unknown planet and right away you start eating all the plant life like it will have no effect on you. The same goes for water as well, how do you know if the water is not infected with some kind of alien virus that will kill you if enough is consumed? With sleep it is somewhat awkward and strange. To sleep your character just kind of closes their eyes and sleeps exactly where it stands. Honestly the first time it happened it was actually laughable. Also how do you know that in your catatonic-like standing sleep that you are not going to get dragged off and probed by the much hinted at alien life on this planet? With warmth it never really affects you unless you are swimming in a pool but then all you really need to do is pull out your very useful torch (the fire kind not the battery powered kind) and you seem to be ok after a few seconds.
As with most survival games crafting has to play a part in some minor form or another. The Solus Project abides by the rule by having the most minimum level of crafting possible. The game never really embraces its crafting as it is never really needed for survival. Within the whole play session you are instructed to craft two things. The first is a sharp rock that you craft by smashing two rocks together. Yes, in the future we have no futuristic laser cutter or plasma knives, we only have the sharp rock. The second object you craft is the torch (again fire not battery powered) of ever burning. Honestly this thing just burns forever. It is also very useful as it not only provides light but also provides warmth while exploring.
Where The Solus Project shines comes in the form of exploration. The environments really grab you and demand that you explore further. For the few hours played it seems that The Solus Project has some real potential. The game does have the usual early access problems with random crashes and at one point lost progress. It feels like The Solus Project is on the right track. If the developers can refine their vision and include more of the crafting as a vital element to survival they could be onto some very special.