Solo (PC) - ReviewVGChartz Staff , posted on 09 May 2018 / 3,005 Views
It's been a while since I played a game that personally resonated with me on a very deep and emotional level. Having recently gone through tough personal circumstances, I was looking for a game to take my mind off everything happening in my real life, and Solo just so happened to stand out to me. Suffice it to say, I am glad Solo exists, and for anyone going through rough times I'd definitely recommend giving Solo a shot.
Solo is a puzzle/narrative game from Team Gotham, a new studio on the indie scene. You play as a boy or girl who must solve puzzles across archipelagos, all while answering deep and personal questions about the things you hold dear to yourself, and what you want from your personal relationships and life itself. While that may sound like quite an odd combination, Solo manages to do a great job of mixing serious questions in-between the puzzles, so you'll often want drive yourself to complete a particular puzzle just so that you can see the next question.
What are these questions, I hear you ask? Well, to give two examples: "Do you believe it's possible to love multiple people at the same time?", and "If your partner didn't get on with your family, who would you choose to side with?". These deeply personal questions are serious and grounded, so you really need to be in the right kind of mindset going in to the game in order to get the most out of it.
In one sense, Solo gives back as much as you put into it. I know I for one in the past I likely would have scoffed at some of the questions, thinking they were over the top and pretentious, trying to be more than they actually were. But I committed myself to answering the questions posed as truthfully as possible, putting so much into the game that I actually felt better after playing it, and learned more about myself in the process.
But what about the other 80% of the game? How do the puzzles hold up? Well, for one thing, they can be both the easiest things in the world to complete one moment, and then flip on their heads and become incredibly difficult the next. Most of the game is easy, but you'll come across some puzzles that require you to use blocks in ways you've rarely used them before, resulting in frustratingly long pauses as you try and work out what's required of you.
The puzzles consist of getting your character up to a certain mechanism that activates the golem heads which ask you questions, and then working your way to said golem heads. This is all done by using different blocks in the environment, with each section of the island having its own set number of blocks and set solutions, meaning you can't grab extra blocks from other islands to help you out. Solo gives you a few blocks to play with on your adventures: a normal block, a fan block (to blow other blocks, or the player up), a sticky block, and an extender block for getting across (or up) big chasms.
These blocks may sound simple enough, but the game gives so few of them for each puzzle that the puzzles can end up being quite challenging, and push you to use limited resources in ways you wouldn't otherwise imagine. Your character's mobility (or lack thereof) is a frustration, however, because there are instances where the blocks seem close enough to be able to climb up easily, but due to the restrictive way in which your character will only climb things shoulder height, you have to think up a whole new solution.
There are also side puzzles spread throughout the islands which you may want to solve just to bring life back to the area you're exploring. For example, not only are there side challenges where you'll want to feed animals happily wondering around, or play your guitar to uncover secrets, you may also want to solve the optional puzzles of watering little plant creatures to make them happy again and revitalise the ever-dulling archipelagos. Little sit down spots also scatter the islands, providing opportunities to take in the gorgeous minimalist graphics and reflect on your experience so far.
If there's one major undoubted black spot against Solo it's the controls. Using a mouse and keyboard, I found I constantly had to move the mouse up off the mousemat and back down again just because the camera kept defaulting to the back of my character, meaning I couldn't see the puzzles I was working on. Using a controller didn't make things much better in this particular respect, but did help in keeping the camera moving back to where I wanted it to be.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Solo. The questions it poses will come off as pretentious to some, but I found it to be an enlightening experience. If you enjoy introspective gaming experiences then Solo is definitely one to check out.
This review is based on a digital copy of Solo for the PC, provided by the publisher.
I played a bit of this game and is something quite different to usual games, totally recomended!