The Solus Project - PS4 Review

The Solus Project is a moody title that blends exploration and light survival  with stunning graphics and voice acting that is out of this world. Though exploration is a key driving factor in The Solus Project,  the real gem is in the audio design; muting the game and running throughout the wet environs of Gleise-6143-C is a completely different (and worse) experience. While the map and littered lore are core bits to The Solus Project, the audio is what makes this a title that many gamers will thoroughly enjoy. Unfortunately though the  strange mix between light survival, exploration, and moody lore-driven walking simulator means that while each genre is individually a strong case for a solid game, but together they seem muddied as the game progresses.

In 2151, three years after massive colony ships "carried thousands to a safe zone near Pluto," Earth was destroyed. In the scramble for resources, ships were sent to the far reaches of the universe in a search for a new home in a bid called "The Solus Project." In 2166 one of those ships reach Gliese-6143-C, where the game takes place. The premise is, frankly, awesome. Almost like that creepy-for-all-the-wrong-reasons move Passengers, but after 15-20 hours in Solus Project (of about 40 played), I felt like a lot of that was lost as it became less about the search for a new home and more about wandering around, hopping from one burnable resource to the next foodstuff/bottle of water. The overwhelming majority of your time will be spent looking at your magic PDA to determine if you are hungry, tired, or thirsty. It was quite boring.

For a game with such amazing audio and visual design, I would have hoped that there could have been other cues for these things (actual stomach rumbling for hungry, dry, raspy coughing or breathing for thirst, and out-of-focus viewing  / narrowing of field of vision). Unfortunately that is not the case, though the disembodied PDA voice that notifies you when you are hungry or tired or thirsty is helpful, but it still felt like the majority of my time was spent looking not at the gorgeously pseudo-hostile locales and more at the blue-white lights of the PDA dotmatrix-like screen.

For a universe where interstellar travel one would think that an in-helmet HUD would have been developed.

I personally think that the design choice to not use a hub may have been potentially influenced by classic sci-fi horror set pieces, such as those found in Ridley Scott's Alien or George Lucas's Star Wars, though I digress.

Actual exploration feels at times, too corridor like as the terrain is often broken my large mounds with many of the real explorative operations happening in caves or ruins sunken deep into the crust. I am not sure I have played an exploration game where I longed for wide open plains or forested rolling hills. Given the lack of variation in the environment it can get monotonous at times, but there is often some interesting tidbit of lore right around the corner that you can go and discover. That is the one saving grace to the beautiful, if relatively bland environment. Lore is not the only thing to discover though, as there are wreckage sites, ruins, and resources that you will be looking for.

Wreckage sites are neat because you can occasionally see them falling from the sky as parts of a spacecraft or they will already be strewn about, a sign of an earlier impact. Within those sites you will often find some of the best resources, such as water bottles and protein packs that work as both water and food, both of which you will be spending the majority of your time looking for. The ruins provide the real meat to the game by way of lore as you can often fine notes from previous denizens with information about the area, their findings, and their observations. Add some of the more melancholic notes in the dark, dank ruins of a once-prosperous civilization to the absolutely eerie music and haunting ambience noise and you have some great setpieces for a horror scene; the issue is that they do not pan out to be anything of substance beyond an eerie setup and fizzled climax.

It is a shame that The Solus Project spends more time trying to add realism in the way of survival that pushing for a bit more exploration. Exploration for the sake of survival is an excellent mechanic that can really play well (see This War of Mine, The Forest, H1Z1: Just Survive), but when the focus of the game is Exploration with a survival gimmick, the balance can be thrown off and that is what happens with The Solus Project. The exploratory aspects of The Solus Project as top-notch but they are hindered by an overbearing survival mechanic that forces the user to keep their heads down as they hunt for a stray bottle of water or an edible plant. Though an enjoyable title, The Solus Project could still do with a bit of survival balancing and were that to happen, it would go from "swell" to "excellent" in a few short breaths.

Game Information

PlayStation 4
Grip Games
Teotl Studios
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
Xbox One

Provided by Publisher

Article by Robert


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