Solarix is a fairly-linear stealth-based experience that seems to have felt the need to describe itself as something more. Solarix advertises itself as a science-fiction horror game featuring open-ended levels for both combative and stealth-focused playstyles. This does not seem to be the case at all. Solarix is a stealth game. If you go into it not expecting to blast enemies, your experience might be considerably different than mine. However, even trying to look at it with fresh eyes I found the entire experience rather lackluster. I did have fun being scared for the first hour or so, but once you figure out that the enemies don’t have peripheral vision, and are about as intelligent as a box of hair, it becomes a lot less engaging. There are a lot of amazing sights to be seen, however most of the game will have you slinking through dark metal spaceship corridors. There is still a lot of unrealized potential here. The game would benefit greatly from another year of development and a second drafting, luckily the dev team is quite active. So is it worth adding to your library? Lets take a deeper look at Solarix.
Solarix promises open-ended levels in its tagline. Much like the aforementioned combat, the amount of exploration offered is extremely minimal. I understand there is only so much you can do with an abandoned spaceship, however even when you make it outside, the path is still linear as can be. Unless you end up clipping through a wall and wandering into an unpopulated wasteland. Enemies are sparse almost anywhere you go until the last couple hours of the game, and at that point you might encounter five at most. Overall, I suppose it’s a good thing since your weapons have no iron-sights and ammo for them is quite scarce. For the most part you will be sneaking up to people and shocking them in the back of the head, which means popping up out of stealth mode. Luckily stealth mode is almost impregnable, but taking one step when you aren’t stealthed will summon every enemy within a gigantic radius. You can move bodies and shoot out lights, but enemies won’t bother investigating either. For what is apparently a stealth game, it’s quite awkward to say the least.
I might pull some punches if the game was advertised for what it was, but as it stands I think it will fail to please anyone but the most devoted sci-fi or survival horror fans. I do enjoy that the Q and E keys are used to peek, but it doesn’t find much use even on the harder modes due to the poor intelligence of your enemies. The writing is very nice, and the voice-acting is supreme but the story is cliched. However, I’d argue that it is cliched for the right reasons. In an age consumed by technology, we apparently DO need to be retreading ground that was covered by books that are nearing a century old. (Brave New World in 1931 & 1984 in 1941) Honestly though, a tale about renegade AI, and deadly computer viruses isn’t anything we haven’t seen done before, and presented better. I can appreciate the message, but the delivery still leaves a lot to be desired. Crawling around through the dark at the pace of a snail and killing nothing but lightbulbs is not what I signed up for. To reiterate, without iron-sights your pistol is effectively neutered, and I despise the usage range of the Electro-Shocker. You do get a shotgun, but only in about the last hour of gameplay.
I applaud the efforts of Pulsetense Games, and think that visually Solarix is an extreme accomplishment for an indie dev team on the slightly outdated UDK engine. Really, I can live with creepy strings or synths building up into nothing. Ineffectual weapons, clunky controls, and poor AI could also all be bearable, if the plot actually kept me guessing or the finale was actually worth it. The ending is an absolute fizzle, even for a game that will take 7 hours at most. The game’s tagline should be changed to not include the words “combat” and “open-ended”. Without these expectations, and an unfortunate auto-save that sent me plummeting through the planet on reload (meaning I had to start allll over), I believe Solarix would be a much more positive experience. Patches are being released and the game is far from unplayable, but is extremely lackluster in many aspects, and unfortunately does not warrant a price tag of $20 in my opinion. I would still like to give a big thanks to KISS ltd. and Pulsetense Games for the review copy. The game needs a lot more polishing, but I hope that some constructive criticism is able to come from this review.
- Controls- 6/10
- Fun Factor- 8/10
- Difficulty- 3/10
- Replayability- 1/10
- Innovation- 3/10
- Graphics- 8/10
- Music- 2/10
- Sound FX- 7/10
- Story/Lore- 7/10
- Level Design- 5/10
Final Score: 50/100 for innovation, fun factor, and graphics.
Summary: A stealth-based survival horror set on an abandoned space-station.
Verdict: Average plot doesn’t save Solarix from lackluster gameplay. You work hard for your money. I would not recommend this for $20.
Solarix was released on Steam Apr 30th 2015.
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