The Solus Project tackles survival games and allows you to jump in with VR. Does it manage to mesh everything necessary to make a compelling experience?
The Solus Project is a new game for PS4 that tries to blend survival game elements with a focused story. While neither ever really flourish, neither is bad either. I played the entire game in VR, and quite enjoyed my experience, even if it isn’t the best game I’ve ever played with the headset. Its control scheme works adequately and visuals could be worse, and the story keeps you guessing what’s going on this strange planet with survival elements to keep you engaged. Not everyone will enjoy the game though because it can feel like it’s dragging on with all the caves that look incredibly similar, and a story that needs to be pieced together bit by bit. It succeeds where it tries most though, if not exceptionally. If you have the time, and a VR headset, I suggest you give the game a go.
Let me say before continuing though that a VR headset is not required, it’s just that much better with one. You will, however, also need 2 move controllers because you cannot play with the standard controller in VR mode.
Okay, so The Solus Project starts off with a backdrop for the story letting you know why you’re going to this strange planet. In short, Earth and the solar system are destroyed, so you must find a new place for the Human race as a whole or perish. It throws you into space, quite literally, to see the ship on its way to this new planet. Something comes up from the planet and destroys your ship. Luckily, you’re able to make your way an escape pod and get to the surface. When you “wake up” in the wreckage, you need to get your surroundings.
As you make your way around the wreckage, you will find the basic elements of survival. Food, water, basic tools and so on. You get a sort of PDF where quests, health status, tiredness and so on are displayed, and becomes your sort of menu without having to pause. You will need to craft your own tools, and in some cases make some better food to last for longer periods of time, as well as sleep when you’ve been awake for too long.
While those survival elements are there, they seem like almost an afterthought. Like most survival games, they get easier as you go along, but with The Solus Project, they felt almost pointless from the beginning. While they do give you something to think about as you play, they are so subtle, and the food/water provided in the game is so abundant I never found myself worried for my “health” so to say. It’s a nice touch, but it’s just never a concern.
The story is laid out in such a way where you the player is learning everything at the same time as the protagonist. You aren’t required to read the scattered letters and personal logs, and even the stones with the planet’s history as you go, but they give you a reason to do the things you do. It may be optional, but the game would be a total drag without them. Otherwise, the only purpose of the game would be to fix the communications tower so you can send a transmission to the fleet, which is the ultimate goal.
You will find some hidden paths, and the indigenous species will begin to make themselves known… in a way as you travel the planet in your attempt to repair this communications tower. Through your journey, you will run into some light puzzles that tend not to be too challenging, although some require more work than others. They’re not bad, but not extensive either, so you usually won’t spend more than a few moments on them.
The game overall builds its environment well and gives you plenty to explore and discover when it comes to the planet and its history. The game plays quite well in VR, and the entire game can be played that way. The survival elements, while there to add to immersion, are really more of an annoyance than anything else. The controls are adequate, but the lack of combat makes that an easy thing to get right. In the end, the game is worth playing at its asking price of $19.99, but at the same time there are better games to spend your time on. Although, if you have a PSVR and are looking for another good full-length VR game, definitely give this one a go.
Code provided by publisher. Review based on PS4 version. Also available on Xbox One and PC.