I’m going to preface this review – one that I posted on the old Steamified site – by advising that I liked this game substantially more than other reviewers. I’m more than a little disappointed that the game averages a lowly 47 Metacritic score. The highest is a modest 65 (Everyeye.it). I appreciate that the game suffered (suffers) from a lot of issues and that from a critical perspective each writer can justify their scores. However, the developers have continued supporting and working on the game (the most recent update was in June) and that the game that it is today is not the game that they reviewed.
Born in 1980 I was a teenager of the 1990s. My childhood is what is commonly referred to as the golden era of video gaming. I watched the industry develop along with me from first playing the Atari consoles, the Commodore 64 and Amiga home personal computers, SEGA Master System, Nintendo, MEGA Drive, the original Sony PlayStation, Nintendo, etc. I cherished my childhood and video games were a major part of it. I remember some of the most amazing times in my life were experiencing certain games for the first time. One of those games was the original single-player FPS version of Unreal. I cherished exploring that spaceship and then exiting the craft and exploring the game world. It’s one of my most prized video game experiences ever. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot that compares to it these days and then I discovered that nostalgia in playing Solarix.
Now I’m not going to tell you that Solarix is in the same class as the original Unreal. However, the beginning of the game gave me those nostalgic feels like few other games have done before. I was excited. I was hopeful. I was in my happy gaming place. The start of the game was pure excitement for me. The game shows so much potential in the opening minutes that I couldn’t help but build my hopes up. Dashed they were a little bit but I’m still very happy that I got to have this experience and doubly so having found that lost feeling of nostalgia that exploring the craft provided me.
Unfortunately, just as the game was starting to peak early in the game it plateaued. I got the gun. I did what the game told me to do – turn off the lights. I was prepared to advance stealthily throughout the clearly dangerous area. Then I was out of bullets almost as quickly as I got them. Then the enemy spotted me. Then he drained bullet after bullet in me. I wasn’t enough of a bullet sponge. I had no way of defending myself let alone possessing the ability to kill him before he killed me. I was forced to restart the area from the last save point. Thank God for the save points. You will need them throughout the game because you sure as heck aren’t going to be killing any enemies with ease. Perhaps this is a good thing but when you feel as though you’ve done everything you can to stop being spotted you find yourself the enemy’s target. Sometimes these events feel utterly unfair. Sometimes it can feel like a genuine slog.
But let’s get back to the game’s strengths. Atmosphere, immersion and horror. I have a hard time considering the horror similar to that of say Alien: Isolation because in that game you simply cannot kill the Alien. However, here, if you have enough bullets you can do so. It’s still a good survival horror cum stealth game but it’s in the atmosphere and the immersion to the horror that Solarix shines. Another fantastic strength to the game is the voice acting. This is supposed to be an indie game. So much of the production value is top notch. The atmosphere itself is depressing, dark and moody. It shines through in every pore of the game. Every fiber feels as dark as sin and it sucked me right in.
I’d recommend Solarix to those of you who are into feeling their sadistic side. The atmosphere and setting is not to be missed. The game does so much right and yet its few flaws stop the game from being great. Yet it’s too good to miss.