Sole Hands-On Preview – PAX East 2019
I’ve played a lot of artsy games over my years of writing reviews, and a common theme in a lot of them is that they’re SLOW. Beautiful art design and some unique ideas, but usually, they’re so damn slow that playing through them is a total slog. Sole doesn’t really seem to have that problem, and remains very pretty and head-scratchingly challenging at times when it comes to puzzles. Not in a bad way, mind you, in a good way.
You play as a ball of soft, white light traversing what seems to be a land shrouded in unending night. The game is fairly dark for the most part, but in a very serene way, not a creepy one. Thankfully, you leave a lit trail wherever you go, so you’re not constantly getting turned around thinking “Okay, where the hell did I come from?” Not only that, but wherever you go, flowers, grass, and trees sprout up all around you, making it even easier to tell where you’ve been.
The area that I got to play in was pretty wide-open, with lots of beacons and statues that needed to be activated in order to open a big gate to reach the end of the area. You move pretty swiftly, so getting from one point on the map to another isn’t a huge deal if you have to backtrack a little to find something you missed. I basically just used the darkness to figure out where to go, as the area didn’t have too many “dead zones” where there was just nothing important. It’s pretty, it’s relaxing, it’s fun, and it’s an artsy game that I can actually see myself wanting to play. King’s Bird comes to mind when I think of other artsy games that are done very well, and I think this will follow in the same vein as that.
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