The Solus Project (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 23.09.2017 4

Review for The Solus Project on PlayStation 4

Survival games have become an increasingly popular sub-genre within the past few years. Titles like Don't Starve, State of Decay and even the monumentally disappointing No Man's Sky all relied on survival gameplay to create a gameplay cycle that had an ebb and flow to it when it came to managing resources and statistics. It is exciting to ride that razor's edge of survival and to see how long one could last with limited and often randomized resources. The Solus Project is a noble yet misguided attempt to meld a narrative with survival gameplay, while displaying some of the most hideous 3D graphics rendered on a PlayStation 4. If that wasn't enough, masochists can also endure this abomination in VR.

When The Solus Project began, something felt off. Maybe it was the unusually low quality visuals. Perhaps it was its utterly dry and boring text crawl that explains many unimportant plot details that never matter. It isn't until control is given and just how awkward the movement and button mapping is that the realization that this is going to be a really rough time is truly felt. Maybe this plays better in VR? PSVR enhanced the way some PlayStation 4 games controlled, so maybe The Solus Project benefits, too.

It turns out this could not be further from the truth, and the cold reality is that VR does not help this game's controls; it actually makes them worse by virtue of having no options for DualShock 4 controls and is restricted to only using PS Move wands. Never mind that the basic act of walking is frustrating thanks to the protagonist feeling overly heavy and taking way too long to pick up any sense of momentum; it feels like playing as a large lead ball in first person. The sluggish movement is mitigated in VR, but the lack of options and the most backwards control setup make The Solus Project feel like it is unplayable.

Screenshot for The Solus Project on PlayStation 4

Using the PS Move wands to move with the locomotion settings enabled enforces the left wand as a steering stick or throttle, while the right wand's main button is the accelerate function. Movement in this manner can lead to some smooth traversal, but the problem of rotating oneself is strictly restricted to snap-turning, the most disorienting feature introduced to VR. This is all because the PS Move controllers do not have any analogue sticks at all, and because The Solus Project won't allow VR mode to played with a DualShock 4, it means playing in 2D mode is the only way to play this game without having to endure the confusion of snap-turning. The alternative to the locomotion movement mode is the teleportation method. This might work for some people, but unless there is a reason for the character to be able to teleport, all it does is create a disconnect from the player-character.

VR tends to impact a game's visuals in a compromising way, and it doesn't do The Solus Project any favours, since it already looks like a dayglow trash heap. PlayStation 4 VR games are capable of so much more, and modern game engines today provide even the smallest teams with an unprecedented amount of tools at their disposal to render anything the human mind can imagine - yet here is a very generic space adventure with low poly designs and ugly textures. It isn't even so much that the textures are low quality (they are), but that they are aesthetically unappealing because of the designs and harsh straight edges.

Screenshot for The Solus Project on PlayStation 4

There is very little variation on anything on this planet, and so many objects are repeated to a seemingly endless degree. Since The Solus Project is a pretty long game with a very basic premise, so much of the world feels like padding, along with the fact that so little gets spread so thin. After staring at the alien landscape for a while, it becomes so mundane and lifeless where the act of playing this feels like monotonous dead-end work.

The gameplay cycle is not that far off from being sort of like No Man's Sky in that the core gameplay is walking around lifeless alien environments and picking up the trash to smash together into trash that will allow further progression... but with worse controls. The Solus Project does not have anything randomly generated, thankfully. The overall map layouts do manage to have some semblance of competence and interesting enough flow that might have made up for the poor art assets.

Screenshot for The Solus Project on PlayStation 4

On the standard difficulty mode, the main game is comprised of following the waypoints. Survival materials are in abundance even for the normal mode - enduring the "harsh" conditions is never a problem since pretty much everything one could ever need is so widely available to the point the only real challenge is the lack of inventory space to hold things. Too often items have to be briefly dropped, only to be picked up again later just to make some room for some on-the-go crafting.

The level of detail on the protagonist's PDA is believable and is full of information like thirst and hunger levels. Weirdly enough, the device even knows how tired the player-character is, too. Body warmth and such stats all must be maintained or else stamina and health get affected negatively. All this would have been wonderful additions if the playability wasn't so terrible and such a drag to play. Games like Fallout: New Vegas pulled off a very similar survival sim back in 2010, and it was fun to play because the designers understood that the basics of a logical control mapping and fluid movement were key to a game's playability.

Screenshot for The Solus Project on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Janky, ugly and unpolished is the best way to describe The Solus Project. It had a noble idea of combining the walking sim narrative game with survival simulation stats, and on paper this is a concept that definitely has appeal. It is too bad that this was executed so badly, and it can all be attributed to failing to get the fundamentals of control and playability just right. The simple act of moving in standard mode is an agonizing slog, and god help the poor soul who tries to contend with incomprehensible VR controls. This is great for anyone who loves to torture themselves.

Developer

Teotl Studios

Publisher

Teotl Studios

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Man, that's a shame. This gives me some proper Alien vibes. Sucks it didn't quite work out.

youre way better off playing something like Dont Starve

I think the survival thing puts me off anyway. I played Don't Starve, but it couldn't hold my interest. If I didn't read this review, I wouldn't have known it was a survival game. Those screens make it look like a cool Alien-like horror adventure.

its not that at all.
its being marooned on a planet kind of thing.

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