The Solus Project – Review (PSVR/PS4)
If you like being alone, you might like this game.
At the early stages of The Solus Project it’s easy to make comparisons to No Man’s Sky. The exploration elements and setting make it easy to compare the two games. The biggest difference is that The Solus Project never made claims of what the game was capable of only to completely underwhelm the masses at launch. However, it also is a much shorter experience coming in at about 15 hours as opposed to the nearly endless experience of No Man’s Sky. With a price point of $20 you still get a fairly good sized campaign.
Earth has been destroyed and mankind has sent multiple search parties to the far corners of the universe in search for their next home. You wake up on an alien planet that appears to uninhabited and you are truly alone. This is what the game does best, it gives you a definite sense that you are alone, things are dire and, if you fail, mankind fails with you.
The Solus Project does a few things right, but even more things wrong.
First let’s start with what they get right.
- Exploration – You spend most of your time in this world exploring. You move from location to location looking for supplies, solving puzzles, and finding out if the planet could be your species’ new home.
- Loneliness – Stray too far out in the cold and you will die of hypothermia and humanity is lost. Go on an exploration without enough food and you will starve to death and humanity is lost. Go off without enough light sources and you will wander around in the dark until you die of thirst, starvation, or hypothermia and guess what? You guessed it… humanity is lost.
- Setting – While you won’t be blown away by the graphical power of The Solus Project, they have built an interesting world to explore. On the surface you’ll find beaches and rock formations to explore. As you go underground, the planet is full of caves and wonders to discover. You’ll never find yourself bored of your surroundings.
- VR and Non-VR – The Solus Project, much like Resident Evil 7, enables you to play in VR or with standard controls on your television as well. (We found the controls to work much better with the Dual Shock 4 controller playing through the standard version of the game than we did using move controllers in VR)
Now on to the bad news, starting with the VR specificity issues.
- VR An Obvious Afterthought – The game originally released without VR support but it still looks okay. In VR, the Move controls are clunky. Movement is choppy and with so many things in your inventory (paired with a system that requires combining items for various purposes) you’ll often find yourself hitting the wrong buttons and getting frustrated in the process. You’ll drop something you meant to combine etc. This can be extremely annoying when you drop an item such as a torch and the torch subsequently flames out… leaving you in the dark without heat.
- Poor Tutorial – One of the trophies you pop towards the start of the campaign is for completing the tutorial and you may find yourself asking, “What tutorial?” The game never holds your hand and lets you find out for yourself exactly what is required of you to stay alive. It also never tells you what you need to do, so it all relies on your sense of exploration and trial and error.
- Darkness – The game nails the sense of being alone, which is eerie and very well done until you have no light. When you are in complete darkness, the game lets you move about until you die or, on occasion, stumble upon an item that will bring you relief. The one thing you will never run out of is darkness. Somehow, even when exploring the surface while the sun is u,p you will find yourself in darkness if you turn the wrong way. With nothing blocking the sun from your view it feels odd that you can turn and it feels like dusk in the middle of the day.
Recommendation: To truly enjoy The Solus Project you really have to love aimless exploration with the odds stacked against you. At $20 it won’t break the bank if you’re thinking about giving the game a shot. Even with the limited number of quality releases available on PSVR, we can’t help but think your money could be better spent on an experience such as Dino Frontier that comes in at just a slightly higher price of $30.
While we hope more games take the approach that Resident Evil 7 andThe Solus Project took (giving us a standard and VR experience in the same package) there are just better uses of your time in the incredible year that 2017 has been for the gaming world.
*Full Disclosure- We were given a copy of THE SOLUS PROJECT by the PR company for the game. This did not influence the reviewer’s comments or opinions in any way.*
Author: Phil Neyman
Philip is better at buying video games than he is at playing them. He was once told “it must suck to love something so much and be so terrible at it.” As a boy he would write terrible poems about himself and Ross Perot. He enjoys the best and worst of all forms of media, but nothing in the middle. Puyo Puyo Tetris has almost caused unreconcilable differences between him and his wife. He’s never had a hangover, but not from lack of trying.