Name: Solstice Chronicles: MIA
Released: 26 July 2017
Ironward has made a follow-up, though not a direct sequel, to their 2015 game “The Red Solstice”. As someone with embarrassingly little experience with “two stick shooters”, I plugged in the Xbox controller and fired up Solstice Chronicles: MIA.
Earthlings has been driven to Mars by a virus (STROL) outbreak back on Earth. But in an effort to make a cure – the virus has gotten to one of the colonies at Mars as well. The player is a super soldier that needs to save the mankind. The odds are against you, but luckily Saffron, a very helpful and charming little drone, is there to join you on your mission.
The game features several antagonists, and that might be the biggest flaw with the story. I never understand why this person we just met needs to be chased down and killed – even as I write this, I cannot for the life of me remember any of their names, because I got somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes of them being the next target. The story keeps rushing forward without ever making me interested.
The game starts out a bit clumsy, with the tutorial jumping back and forth between its 9(!) pages. And honestly, the tutorial didn’t explain too much – I still just had to “try-and-miss” a lot before I started getting the hang of it all.
Furthermore, the controls feels funky to me. It might be because my Xbox 360 controller is beginning to feel the years of gaming, but even with mouse and keyboard (which feels plain wrong with the game being a “two-stick fighter”) it doesn’t feel responsive enough. And in case you’re wondering – no there isn’t any option to adjust sensitivity of neither the mouse nor the joysticks. The game features a leveling-up screen between each level which allows you to allot points in several different upgrades, it is a bit much to handle in the beginning as the information about what skills to unlock later on is rather on the short side. However it did get more understandable as the game progressed and I was able to test out more of what was useful and worth spending more points on. What I will give the game a huge plus for is the possibility to play the entire game in co-op mode. Unfortunately I have not been able to test it out, but it is a cool feature nonetheless.
The graphics in Solstice Chronicles: MIA is it’s best side. Although it won’t blow you away it is more than good enough for a game like this, with the textures looking rather sharp for an indie game. The sound design on the other hand is not good at all. The gun firing effects doesn’t provide any feedback as it gets drowned by all the background noises without any possibility to adjust it individually. It also has to be mentioned that the sound kept bugging out and kept looping the same 2-3 seconds until the game was forced to shut down. Hopefully the developers will be able to fix this. Weirdly it seems like the text has never been proof-read by a native english speaker, by all means, the subtitles and pages of tutorial is understandable, but the grammar really needs improvement.
With all of the above in mind, I have to say that the game feels unfinished. It’s very short, the story could be a lot more interesting and the sound-issues, are the things that comes to mind when I think back to this experience. That being said, with the game being developed by a rather small indie team I do understand why the story is short, and I know it’s really difficult writing stories for a short game. So the final issue then, is the game being unfinished – and honestly it makes me sad, it feels rushed and without the love indie developers have to make shine through to the gamer.
– Forgettable story
– Just not fun
The game costs 20€ (currently 10% off) – if you still wanna check it out you can find it on Steam