The Red Solstice is a unique top-down shooter. Unlike games such as Hotline Miami, The Red Solstice is currently focused on multiplayer (that is all that is available tight now in the Early Access build) and it is more than just a simple top-down action-filled shooter. Touting itself as an 8-player tactical co-op survival game, you are tasked with surviving a one-hour mission. During the hour long action-fest you will be given a series of randomized objectives and then it is up to you to survive. Some of the tasks that you will be given would be to set up turret defense or to gather a specific supply to defending an area for a set time against an onslaught of aliens and zombies. As you fight back the hordes of baddies and complete objectives, you will earn experience points which will then level you up, awarding you with new weapons, armor kits, ammo types and secondary gear options. As I mention, The Red Solstice is not your run-of-the-mill shooter and I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the Early Access build.
To start off I would like to say that I did have problems getting The Red Solstice to run on my Windows 8.1 machine; I could only play the Prologue or access the options but every time I tried to get into the multiplayer lobby or to join a game, the application crashed. I had so much fun with the prologue that I dug around for a bit and decided to fire up Windows 7 Ultimate (because dual-boot is awesome), installed The Red Solstice and everything seemed to just work. I was able to hop into a game with no problem so I am not sure if it is an issue with the Windows 8.1 OS on my computer (doubt it, since other games work just fine), or if it is a compatibility issue with the game. That said, once I booted up trusty ol’ Windows 7 everything seemed to work out just fine.
After selecting the multiplayer game type you will be able to see the available lobbies; even in early access I did not see much less than 5 or 6 available lobbies and during peak times I saw as many as twenty-plus lobbies waiting for folks to join. Once you choose a game lobby you will be able to kit out your character, at first you have the option for either Assault or Medic, but as you play and level other classes, such as Recon, will become available. You will be able to kit out your build and if you want, save the build and once the lobby is full the leader will start the game. Now, prior to launching you have the choice to land via dropship with the rest of your squad, or you can land via drop pod which would put you out in the wilderness alone.
There were some games where everyone dropped together and wandered the map in one giant pack laying waste to anything that approached, others we all launched in drop pods and worked our way towards certain points. Both had their merits, as the large pack offered the greatest survivability at the expense of supplies and/or exploration. Dropping in a drop pod, though, was far more exciting. The game became something of a cat-and-mouse game at that point and there was one particular game where I was chasing a band of grotesque-looking aliens right into a Recon+Medic team that had set up an ambush at a choke point; the ensuing battle was a spectacle to behold and quite memorable. Naturally though, not all matches had players willing to work as a team and there were a number of lone wolves out there.
A refreshing aspect to The Red Solstice is that it is almost a requirement to work as a team; unless you are very good or very lucky, playing as a lone wolf is exponentially more difficult than roving around in pairs or even as an entire squad. You will face punishing odds no matter your group size, so having squad mates to help cover your retreat is almost a requirement. While staying mobile is a sure way to stay alive, there are times when it will be more prudent to stop and stand your ground.
There are plenty of locations that will provide you with both the high ground and a choke point, if you are lucky there may even be a turret or two that you can power up with some power cells adding to the chaos and helping to ensure you stay alive. There are plenty of different places to stop where it would make sense, though on more than one occasion you may find yourself stuck in a long corridor and getting hammered at on both ends; it is in those situations that you had best have your entire squad with you otherwise you will be a little red stain on the ground before too long.
Outside a few technical hiccups that were likely due to the game still being in pre-release state, The Red Solstice offered up a fun, tantalizing, and unique style of action and survival. Over the course of a dozen hours, I had some truly memorable experiences which is a spectacular feat for any game to do. In today’s age of video games, there are so many releases happening all the time that a game needs to be truly special or to provide a fascinating experience in order to survive more than a day or two. Fortunately The Red Solstice is a game that is both special and it provides a beyond-fascinating experience. Even with the little issues that being in Early Access, The Red Solstice is a good time and I am eagerly looking forward to its official launch. You can find The Red Solstice on Steam here.
Preview by Robert