This game was actually a pleasant surprise. I had expected a colorful little puzzle-adventure game, but got a story experience unlike any other I have seen in a video game. Solo accomplishes this through its use of atmosphere and excellent puzzle design, but is brought down by some technical issues.
Thought-provoking story. The way in which Solo manages its storyline is unlike any game I have ever played. It basically takes the form of a questionnaire, with talking statues posing questions to the player throughout the course of the game. These questions all relate to love, friendship, and/or family, but mostly focus on love. After answering a question, the player is able to see the thoughts of his/her theoretical partner, with these thoughts offering an outside perspective on the player’s answer. For example, one of the questions was “would you answer someone’s love even if you didn’t love them, just not to be alone?”, to which I answered “I think so… maybe I can learn to love them with time”. After giving that answer, the partner said “but won’t that end up hurting me if you never manage to love me back?”. The game really made me question my decisions in this way, it was quite interesting.
Great atmosphere. Solo has an incredibly calming atmosphere, largely due to its use of an ambient soundtrack. In fact, this is a soundtrack I would expect from some sort of meditation video, not a video game, but it actually works for a game like this. The art style also helps in pushing this atmosphere. It is definitely on the more stylistic side, but maintains this certain sense of charm, especially through its use of color. Colors are, for the most part, pretty vivid and match the mood of each island. For example, the more a player interacts with an island, the more colorful it becomes. All of this combined provided for a pretty relaxing journey, even given the game’s heavy story.
Excellent puzzle design. While the game may be heavy on the story-side, that does not mean that the puzzles are bad. In fact, I quite enjoyed how the puzzles were designed. The game’s puzzles revolve around blocks and how they are placed, with different types of blocks being introduced over the course of the game. As a result, the puzzles get increasingly more complex, so much so that I oftentimes found myself stuck for minutes at a time. I never had to resort to a walkthrough though, so they are at least of manageable difficulty. These puzzles offered a nice distraction from the otherwise heavy content of the game’s story.
Finicky camera. The game’s camera can be a bit finicky at times. This is really apparent when the player is in an enclosed space, such as a building. In these scenarios, the camera would sometimes flip out, zooming in right on top of the player and rotating really fast. Fortunately, there are not too many enclosed spaces for the player to traverse, so the problem is not too common, but it can sometimes occur outside, especially when near walls.
Clunky controls. Early on in the game, the player is presented with a wand that allows him/her to pick up blocks from afar. The wand itself is a pretty cool mechanic, but it can be an absolute pain to control. Picking up blocks is simple enough, but placing them is another story. Getting the block to where it needs to be takes some wrestling, partly due to the issues with the camera I mentioned before. I eventually got used to it, but it really should have been designed to be a bit more intuitive.
Terrain bugs. During my playthrough I ran into a couple of issues with the game’s terrain. Climbing would sometimes bug out my character, causing me to fall through the world. Fortunately, this did not result in a death, as the game would just teleport me back into the water. I also ran into a flickering issue, but this only happened a couple of times. When it did happen though, the terrain would flicker in and out of visibility. A bit strange, but again, this was a limited issue.
Although it may not be the game for everyone, Solo manages to tell a captivating story while also having some excellent puzzle design. However, there are some technical issues, mainly with the game’s camera and wand controls. Despite this, the game definitely earns my recommendation, just be prepared for a heavy story.
You can buy Solo on Steam here.
I was provided a free review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.