It isn’t often for me that I pick up a game and after playing it, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. A couple weeks ago I was given a copy of Solstice Chronicles: MIA, a very early version of the game that doesn’t have a lot of the story attached to it, basically an alpha demo that has all the functioning parts working. Not enough for us to do a review, but good enough to preview it and test out what the game has to offer. But at the end, I’m a little baffled of what to make of things.
The game is an interesting mix of genres and mechanic types. You play a marine headed to Mars to figure out what happened to a mining crew, and as you would expect, with less that stellar results. You’re accompanied by a small floating robot that looks like the 343 Guilty Spark out of Halo 2, adding commentary to the situation you’re in while also providing guidance. In fact, a lot of this game, down to the uniform suits, is a lot like Halo. You view the game in a 3/4 drop-down third-person view, so the world around you is always sitting on an angle with only a little bit of visibility. You pick up supplies as you go, primarily either to distract or add ammo to your supply.
As you make your way through, you’ll be killing off enemies that move like the weirdest zombies you’ve encountered in a while, with a walking pattern that make them appear to be auditioning for Thriller. There’s also an ample supply of creatures standing between you and the objective at hand. When you finish a stage, you’ll be transported to a bunker to change out your equipment and, hopefully, upgrade your stuff to do massive amounts of damage.
The graphics on the alpha are pretty good, they give enough of the area away to give you an idea of what to do but shroud a lot of it in mystery so it catches you by surprise. But I wasn’t a fan of the sounds as there’s too much ambiance under your killing and not enough music or tones to set the mood. The controls for the alpha flowed pretty well on a standard controller, as well as with the keyboard and mouse. Dying is the real pain in the ass as you’ll be sent back to the start of a level and forced to retry from scratch, but that could just be the model for now.
Overall, Solstice Chronicles: MIA has a lot of good working parts to it, but there’s so much missing from it that we could just be seeing the good parts before the unfinished materials are put into place. It holds up pretty well for an alpha, but I can’t get myself enthused or disappointed about it yet, because there’s just so much unknown to it yet to be defined. If you get a chance to sign up for the alpha and play it, I would highly recommend it to see how you feel about it.
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