Genre: Adventure, Indie
Developer: Team Gotham
Publisher: Team Gotham
Release Date: Apr 27, 2018
Edited by KnightAvenger
I’ve always liked the idea of a more “involved” crowdfunding platform. Kickstarter was a great idea and tool that has helped some game developers get their games made, sure, but Fig (launched 2015) takes it to the next level by strictly focusing on games and allowing people to invest in projects, in return for a share of future revenues. As of mid-June 2018, there are currently six games funded by Fig to appear on the Steam platform, and Solo is one of these six.
Solo, developed by Team Gotham
City, represents an introspective journey about, well, love. It tries its hardest to be personal in that aspect, but, well, it doesn’t really apply to everyone. Personally speaking, I have never been involved in a romantic relationship whatsoever, so that aspect of the game (and most of the story) fell flat to me.
This story still happens, regardless. You can choose your character, whether it be a boy, girl, or older variants, specify that you love a certain gender, and then give it a name. Ultimately, this becomes the name of your sailboat that you use to travel from island to island. The game is split into three main archipelagos. On each archipelago, you activate totems and speak to them in order to slowly expand the island, unlocking new puzzles in the progress. The difficulty scaling is pretty adequate; you gradually learn more mechanics that are required to solve the next puzzles, at one point even gaining an item called the magic wand that allows you to grab blocks from far distances. A few of the earlier puzzles stumped me initially, but (for the most part) they are a joy to solve.
What really strikes my fancy with this game is the incredibly gorgeous graphic/art style. Light-hearted and pretty cheery in aesthetics, it is easy on the eyes and looks incredibly cute. The soundtrack it is married to is similarly chill and mellow, though it can get repetitive the longer you spend on an archipelago.
Right off the bat, Solo unabashedly claims to be designed to work better with a controller. I vehemently disagree with this design philosophy. When you’re on a PC with access to a proper keyboard and mouse, controlling first-person and third-person games feels so much more natural using that, as opposed to a controller. Why are console players on, say, Overwatch, generally considered worse than those on PC? It’s simple; you just have much more freedom with a keyboard and mouse.
But enough of that rant anyway. Simply put, I never got to grips with the controller controls, as I never found using a controller for these kinds of games comfortable. Unfortunately, the keyboard and mouse controls similarly feel like much of an afterthought as well. Mouse sensitivity feels incredibly wonky, and, despite changing the settings, I never found a setting that ever felt fluid and comfortable. This problem only gets worse when you acquire the magic wand; controlling blocks with THAT felt even more awkward than usual.
Solo has also developed a reputation for being pretty short to complete. In general, most people average only four hours for a complete playthrough. Not a whole lot of game for the asking price, huh? That being said, you might feel the monetary sting less if you were more invested in the theme of the game, which, unfortunately, I could not truly appreciate, as I mentioned above.
My last grievance is with the choice of save system. You are only afforded a single save file for the entirety of the game; any new playthroughs will wipe that out. I find that a questionable design decision, especially since you have absolutely no ability to backtrack to previous archipelagos in case you missed out on something; it necessitates another slog through the old puzzles yet again.
- Charming art style
- Interesting puzzles and secrets
- Chill, relaxing soundtrack
Your mileage may vary:
- This game is pretty short, relative to its price
- What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more
- Awkward KB&M controls
- Single save file with zero backtracking and inability to return to previous checkpoints/islands
K3W3L gives Solo a Drastik Measure of 7.5 out of 10 (75).
While Solo, retailing at $14.99 (USD) on Steam, is still a technically competent 3-D puzzle-platformer that is generally fun to play, its short length and the inability of the story to really “click” with me ultimately knocks it down a few pegs. Perhaps, if loving relationships mean a lot to you, this might be more to your liking than it was to mine.