The Solus Project Review
Release Date: September 18, 2017 (PS4)
Developer: Grip Digital, Teotl Studios
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PC, Xbox One
Playstation VR owners are always on the look out for the next big thing to give them reason to dust off the ol’ VR headset, and what better reason than for a Sci-Fi survival exploration game? The Solus Project received quite a bit of praise when it first released on Steam back in July of 2016. Now the PlayStation brethren have their shot to explore this seemingly barren alien world.
The main hook of Solus' gameplay is its exploration and survival elements. When the game starts, it just kind of throws you in and lets you go. There is an objective marker but the game does little to explain how any of its systems work. Crafting, while being very simplistic, is also needlessly unintuitive- requiring the player to equip and un-equip items multiple times just to complete the action of combining two items together. There are many instances like these where the game feels completely at odds with itself. The way you control the character feels like it was made as point and click adventure game, but then a quarter of the way through development the development team was told to switch gears and turn it into a full 3D exploration game, and heck why not throw in VR while their at it (more on that later).
The exploration and story are where this game shines. The world that Teotl Studios created is fascinating to explore. While the graphics are not mind-blowing, the numerous vistas, caves, ruins, and tombs are well thought out and organically believable. The survival aspect of the game requires you to keep food and water on hand at all times in case you run low on energy, I never felt particularly in danger of dying. What it did do was keep me from exploring the potential new Earth just in case there came a time that resources became more limited. For those who love indirect story telling, this game does a good job of providing snippets of information in the way of papers littered all over the landscape from various crashed ships and stone tablets and hieroglyphics on the tombs walls.
When I first heard this game could be played entirely in VR I was so excited that it could be the next big thing in VR. What we ended up getting was a game that feels like it was converted to VR. After playing through a portion in the game I had hopes that experiencing the unique world as if I were actually traversing it would help overlook some of the controls issues I had. As it turns out, it highlighted the them. Lining myself up for some [very] light platforming became needlessly hard. It did make viewing the PDA like heads up display much more intuitive.
If you can look past the multitude of controls issues and more-annoying-than-anything "survival" elements there is a lot of fun exploration on a genuinely interesting world to do. The twist ending may not be the payoff you hope for it will certainly stick with you for some time.
-Interesting alien world to explore with immersive weather effects
-Fully playable in VR
-Overly complicated crafting system for such a simplistic implementation
-Poor VR controls
-Survival elements cause no real tension with the over abundance of supplies littered across the world
Special thanks to Teotl Studios and Grip Digital for providing the code for review on PS4.