The Solus Project Review – There’s something rather clever about the way in which a survival game can twist expectation. Take The Solus Project, a game that wastes no time in dumping you on a hostile alien planet with little more to interact with than a deliberately obtuse PDA and a vague indication of an objective: survive or die trying. But we don’t question the lack of direction or assistance; instead, we get straight to work.
Wildly spelunking through caves, carelessly drinking from questionable water sources, and fiddling with foreign technology in an effort to find out more information about Sarah and her cosmonaut canines. Apparently all useful documentation and supplies relating to off-world survival were destroyed in the crash, thankfully the diaries of your crew landed perfectly intact.
The Solus Project could be lazily described as The Martian: The Videogame, albeit one without the presence of Matt Damon. Or Mars. It isn’t directly like The Martian, then, but it does evokes a similar sense of crippling isolation. The fear of dying all alone – with the continuation of the human race placed on your weary shoulders – is a powerful motivational tool, and it’s used to great effect in The Solus Project.
You might succumb to hypothermia in the harsh alien rains, far from shelter after an experiment with teleportation disks goes awry. Perhaps you’ll be dragged below the surface by violent waves, the reflection of the multimooned sky your final view before a fade to black. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself starving to death because you couldn’t fashion a makeshift tin opener from one rock and another slightly sharper rock. The Solus Project is a brutal survival adventure; you’ll spend as much of your time wrestling with the realities of selfpreservation in an unfinished game, as you will a desire to progress through this gorgeous Unreal Engine 4powered world.
The Solus Project has made a solid debut as part of the Xbox One’s Game Preview programme, though there’s still a long way to go before it could be considered content complete. Essential tutorials are MIA, there are mechanics too mysterious to follow, and the framerate desperately needs optimisation. But that’s okay; we knew what we were getting into by playing a survival game still in the early stages of development. What’s important is that the potential is certainly there for The Solus Project to weave a compelling narrative, both environmentally and perhaps in a larger, story-telling sense, and the desire to survive is cultivated well. It’s a difficult game, but whoever said the act of self-preservation in a terrifyingly bleak world would be easy?