The Solus Project – Review
Follow Genre: Survival/Exploration/Horror
Developer: Grip Games
Publisher: Teotl Studios
Platform: PC, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

The Solus Project – Review

Site Score
Good: Astonishingly good atmosphere
Bad: It tries to be too many things at once.
User Score
(4 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (4 votes cast)

As humanities last hope for survival you must survive on a hostile alien planet, and find a way to re-establish contact with your colleagues in orbit, all the while discovering dark secrets hidden beneath the planets surface. But this is not your run of the mill survival game. Nor is it another artsy exploration game/walking simulator. This is something else, welcome to The Solus Project.20160630014342_1Story

Earth has been destroyed and you are part of The Solus Project, humanities last hope of survival. You are part of a team sent to a planet in a nearby solar system to asses its viability for becoming humanities new home. The story begins as you are plummeting through the atmosphere of this planet, but as you would expect, something goes terribly wrong and you crash-land spectacularly.

It soon becomes apparent that you may well be the lone survivor and must explore the planet to try and find out what happened to your colleagues, whist surviving in a harsh alien environment. But this is only the beginning. As you explore, you begin to find evidence of buildings, mystical artifacts and stone carvings that speak of powerful beings and advanced technology, and you start to realise that you might not be alone after all.20160623171735_1The story is mostly presented in the form of journal pages and alien tablets that your PDA can translate. You have a main goal of repairing a communications array to re-establish contact with your people in orbit, and can learn as much, or as little, as you like about this alien world by exploring, or merely reading the tablets that litter your path as you follow the linear path.

You start seeing carvings and stone writings made by an alien species which tells their history. They were rescued from their dying world by another extremely technologically advanced species known as the Sky Ones, and brought to live upon this planet. As you progress you encounter many more carvings venerating The Sky Ones and showing that they were worshiped like gods.

However not all is as it first appears. The more you explore, the more dark secrets come to light and you start to realise that these Sky Ones might not be quite the benevolent saviours that they made themselves out to be.

The storyline is excellent, if somewhat more linear that you might expect, and is what really holds the game together, setting it apart from your generic exploration/survival games. Expect an unusually dark and enthralling story that constantly twists and turns in unexpected directions. Become completely immersed as you follow a mysterious alien figure through a huge underground temple, encounter alien technology, machines and creatures beyond anything you could have expected, and discover the secrets of the Sky Ones.20160623171647_1Graphics

The artwork and backdrops are stunning. Find yourself battling through raging storms, with rain dripping down your visor, running from monstrous tornado’s, and dodging meteor’s as they rain, flaming from the sky, all beautifully rendered.

You can explore flawless alien landscapes, complete with giant monoliths and humongous moons that float just above the horizon. The graphics overall are gorgeous, right down to the alien plants and fauna, and dark, haunting cave systems.20160623165922_1Sound

The music is absolutely fantastic and works perfectly to instill powerful emotions within the player. Those lilting piano sounds as you lay dying, almost as if the game is lamenting your death. The knot that forms in your stomach when the spine chilling harmonies kick in whilst deep underground, surrounded by bones.

It isn’t just the music that does an excellent job but the sound effects too are incredibly immersive and really powerful at drawing you into the game world. The rush of the wind buffeting around you as a tornado touches down, the deafening explosion as a meteor crashes down within meters of you, the crash and rumble of a thunderstorm, or even the little sounds like the occasional plink of water dropping in the caves, deep underground. All of it comes together to greatly enhance the overall gaming experience and it is one of the core reasons that the game works so well and is ultimately so effective as a horror game.20160623170019_1Gameplay

The Solus Project is not an easy title to define and it would probably best be described as a survival/exploration/adventure/horror hybrid. The developers have been extremely ambitious when it comes to the cross genre gameplay mechanics, which means that although the game has a lot of different facets to experience and in a way, evolves as you play, it becomes very unfocused and messy as you progress, with some mechanics eventually becoming more of an annoying hindrance than an actual game-enriching feature.

The game starts as a simple survival game. Fairly standard stuff like collect resources, find shelter, craft basic tools, stay warm, stay well fed and hydrated and sleep. Then suddenly, it unexpectedly changes into an adventure/exploration game as it sets you off exploring a strange cave system to find the source of an unusual sound which is blaring out of the ground.20160623171104_1From here on out the survival aspects take a back seat, as there are sources of infinite heat, food and water to be found frequently in little rest spots, as you follow a linear path and unravel the story that the game has set for you. We actually almost never had to use our own supplies, and just ignored any fresh ones that we came across, just filling up at each rest spot instead. You can, of course, explore off the path, which often results in bonuses in the form of secrets and hidden artifacts that provide permanent buffs to your character, such as a resistance to falling or heat/cold but it always results in you backtracking to the main path eventually.

The story takes you swiftly from here as you learn more about this alien world and its original inhabitants. You explore abandoned underground structures and temples which for some reason are frequently littered with dangerous and deadly traps, and solve puzzles to open the way. The puzzles themselves are generally very simple and just seem to serve as a tool to keep you feeling like you are actually interacting, rather than to really challenge you.

However, it is what happens next that really makes this title worth experiencing, as once more the game surprises you by unexpectedly evolving into an incredibly atmospheric horror-thriller. The tone changes are expertly done, as the music begins to take on a creepier tone and you discover more and more strange skeletons lying unceremoniously, with old blood stains soaked into the stones and a nagging voice in the back of your mind that tells you that something isn’t quite right.20160623175538_1Soon the carvings and writings that you come across begin to take on a horrific light as you start to uncover the truth of the beings known as the Sky Ones. It is at this point that some things you may have noticed earlier, like the abundance of traps, start to make sense. Before long you are running for your life down narrow corridors and caves as monstrous incorporeal creatures, seemingly made of fire and lightning, chase you down, desperate to tear you apart. Things only get creepier from here as you explore an alien school that is littered with the corpses of dead children and their strange dolls that almost seem to move when you’re not looking.

Throughout all of this is the larger goal of getting a communications array online by collecting scrap parts from various crash sites. You will alternate between exploring new islands and searching for the secrets buried deep underneath them. Whilst this all this is going on, it is easy to forget that this is supposed to be a survival game, as you will rarely get cold or hungry/thirsty underground and can sleep pretty much wherever you like.20160623173050_1By this stage the survival mechanics have become more of an annoyance than a core game feature and the only time they’re any consequence is when you accidentally get yourself wet at night whilst exploring the surface and freeze to death before you can back to a heat source. Each of the artifacts that you find actually make the survival aspect less and less relevant as they make you increasingly more resistant to things like cold and hunger. Whether this is a conscious decision by the developers to tone down the superfluous survival mechanics or not, we can only speculate.

The Solus Project spreads itself somewhat thin as it tries to fulfill all manner of different mechanics and bridge half a dozen genres. As a result, some features do suffer from this lack of purpose. Having said this however, the game excels in a great many areas (the sound and visuals are incredible, not to mention the storyline) and despite its faults, it is most definitely worth experiencing for yourself. Do not be put off if you are not a horror fan, despite the extraordinarily high levels of creepy, this title is ultimately an experience that you will thank us for.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
The Solus Project - Review, 8.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

1 Comment

  1. […] secrets that are hidden just beneath the planets surface. We recently reviewed the PC version here, and expect the Xbox One release to be just as […]

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