The Red Solstice Review
I can see how this might be fun in multiplayer.
I can see how, in the heat of the moment, with all cylinders firing and everyone trying to figure out a tactical position against the alien hordes, it could be pretty cool. Hell, I'm sure there are guilds out there who would do great, shouting orders to one another and locking down a position, mowing down shrieking monsters as they run straight at you.
Then, there's a part of me that thinks it really missed the boat. A big part of me, actually. And it has to do with independence.
The Red Solstice doesn't seem to have very much in the way of independence. The game takes place in dark, monster-filled corridors where you guide four soldiers through an overrun base on Mars. It's a real-time tactical game where you can pick various equipment, stats, and skills, but there isn't much more than that. You and your team wander through cramped corridors on a relatively linear path filled with monsters. Occasionally, you hold a position against an onslaught of creatures, with your marines holding off wave after wave until you can collapse the lair for good. Then you move on, towards the next objective and another hole.
And...that's all there is to it. While the game does have differentiation between classes as you go forward, the entire thing's kind of...samey. Hold position, move, hold position, move, mow down the STROL (their name for the insane mutants), move further, mow down more STROL, complete objectives. I don't feel like there's any real independence or method to stationing my bulky dudes at a choke point and then letting them fire until I need them to move to another choke point. That isn't a game to me. Or particularly fun.
The controls are kind of wonky, too. More than once, I moved my soldiers into position, only to have them then stay there when I needed to move again. The tutorial is incredibly noncommittal on the subject of what to do about things, instead choosing to tell you how to move, and then leaving the rest up to you. Worse still, the controls choose to work at times, and then choose not to work at other times. More than once, I was left in the lurch because the game just decided the explosives hotkeys were no longer necessary.
The game also conflates difficulty with "more monsters," throwing more and more enemies in your way. I'd have liked an enemy variety, and maybe that happens in the part of the game I didn't give up on, but the same two or three enemy types were boring. I'd also have liked different behaviors than "Run at the PCs from all directions."
In fact, most of the aesthetics were pretty boring. Your marines look like chiseled spam in helmets and I honestly wasn't able to tell the various types of enemies apart (nor did I care to), and the exteriors all blurred together. Not that there was much to see, given that it was all kind of "generic space" and the usual low horror lighting, but there was really no distinction.
In the end, I'm sure that, had I powered through the boring, repetitive, bland, passive gameplay, I would have found a game that might have been a rewarding experience. But when the part of the game I can play is supposed to be a backdrop to the part I can't, it isn't worth the price of admission.
Final score: 2/5
Full disclosure: The reviewer received a copy of the game to review.