The Solus Project released last year, but thanks to the addition of a VR mode, it has been re-released on platforms like the PSVR for the first time. I took this VR-enhanced version of the game for a test drive on a standard PS4, and found that the virtual reality aspect to be mediocre, but if you like survival/crafting games, you more than likely enjoy the gameplay that The Solus Project offers.
At its core this game is all about surviving through exploration and crafting. Now the crafting isn’t as intense as you may think. You’re not tasked with building full on shelters, but you will be tasked with finding food, building torches, and other craftable items to progress the story forward. Speaking of which, you play as a stranded human who’s spaceship crashes on a mysterious planet. You were a part of Earth’s last living humans on an expedition to find a new home, but due to a catastrophic event, you’re left all by your lonesome on an alien planet. All you have at your disposal is a handy-dandy PDA that lists your vitals and provides feedback on where you should be heading to progress the storyline, which is definitely the best aspect of this title.
Gameplay-wise there’s nothing special about what The Solus Project offers. At first it may feel like a walking-sim, but eventually as you delve into the mysterious narrative, your exploration and crafting get much more interesting. The gameplay works for the genre, so really the driving force in this game is the story, which takes a bit to get into, but once you start to grasp the mystery surrounding the planet you’ve crashed on, discovering what happens next becomes a driving force for you to complete the game. Even though the ending is a bit of a let down, the experience of getting there is well worth the price of admission, so while the gameplay is nothing to write home about, the story is, so this game’s other lackluster features can be overlooked.
Visually it’s an average looking game at best. It uses the Unreal Engine 4, so it looks fairly current, but the frame rate on the PS4 is jumpy enough to be noticeable. Nothing about the visuals really stand out, outside of the oddities you may encounter, such as a black twister, which should be the first clue that all is not as it appears on the planet you’ve crashed on. In VR mode though, the visuals get a bit more blown out, but resemble what most VR games look like on the PSVR.
Speaking of that device, I unfortunately can’t recommend playing this game with VR enabled, which is a shame because its genre is well suited for the technology. The biggest issue with the VR mode is the controls, which make navigating the environment way more difficulty, because you’re forced to use two Move controllers over the DualShock 4. This makes getting around a chore and very frustrating, which leads to you going in circles while missing out on key item pickups or story progression points while warping your way around the map to hopefully get to where you want to be. I also had trouble with the game recognizing inputs to complete crafting tasks, so after about an hour of using the PSVR to play this game I opted for the traditional experience.
If you’re a fan of sci-fi and like survival/crafting games, The Solus Project packs an interesting enough story to warrant a playthrough. It actually has plenty of gaming hours in it too, so you’ll get at least 10-15 hours out of it, if not more if you opt to find every secret and explore a lot. The creepy and mysterious narrative is the highlight of this experience, and it most definitely is compelling enough to check out. The VR mode isn’t ideal, but could be made better with a standard controller, because movement is just too wonky as it is currently setup. Either way, this game provides enough entertainment to check it out, but don’t expect to be blown away by the VR mode or the gameplay in general, because the core of this game’s entertainment is rooted in its storytelling.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided a PS4 code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.