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The Solus Project

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Grip Digital
Developer: Teotl Studios
Release Date: June 7, 2016


XOne/PC Preview - 'The Solus Project'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 13, 2015 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

The Solus Project is a first-person single-player survival game.

With Earth on the brink of a catastrophe, an astronaut and his crew are sent to a distant alien planet with hopes that it will be a habitable home for humanity. Unfortunately, arrival upon the planet leads to the destruction of his ship and the death of his crew. Now he is Earth's first intergalactic castaway, trapped on an island more distant and lonely than any other in the galaxy. However, he might not be alone, as the seemingly deserted planet is populated with ruins of another decidedly inhuman species.

The Solus Project is a first-person exploration game. It's important to emphasize the exploration element because the game is in no way, shape or form a shooter. You have no guns or swords, and you don't have any enemies to worry about. The demo begins with you crash-landing on an island that's populated by strange ruins. We were told that everything we could see, including other islands on the horizon, was something we could explore. The dangers in The Solus Project are far more about the world you're trapped on than the theoretical monsters that live there. Fortunately, the survivor is more than capable of fending for himself, with a little ingenuity on the player's behalf.

One of the cool features is that you can craft items to help you out. It's surprisingly deep, although it was slightly awkward in our preview build. To craft, you use an item on another item. This is done by putting it on the ground and using another item on it. For example, using a rock on another rock allows you to craft a sharp rock. The sharp rock can then be used to cut things in the environment, such as branches or bushes. That gives you fodder to create a torch, which can be enhanced by finding oil, which makes it more flammable. When held to a source of fire, it can be set aflame. There's a puzzle-like element to the crafting that is very important since you can't simply find the items you need. It's entirely possible to go through the demo without crafting a torch or finding the materials to do so, but crafting will sure come in handy later.

The crafted materials are important because you need to keep track of a number of factors in the game. Health is one, but there are also exhaustion, hunger, temperature, thirst and other factors. You can view your current status by looking at your PDA, which displays all your relevant information and details about your current objectives. As you progress, you'll encounter dangers that can impact one or more of your statuses. Near the end of the demo, we discovered that a storm was coming. We had to find shelter or would be in danger of freezing and physical peril if a tornado started up.

Throughout our demo, we found supplies left behind by other explorers, most of whom met untimely deaths. This included bottles of water, canned food, and even an all-important solar-charged flashlight. However, supplies like this won't be commonplace, according to the developers. Once you leave the remnants of your crashed spacecraft, you're going to depend on finding things in the environment that allow you to survive. There are no enemies in the game, so you don't have to worry about being hunted, but likewise, you can't hunt. You need to find edible plants or sources of fresh water to stay alive.

There is a central story path to follow, but the way you choose to follow that path is influenced by what you decide to do. Taking time to explore can lead to finding rare items and powerful tools to make survival easier. Take the long path, and you might find a cache of items, clean water, or an unexpected secret.

The demo consisted almost entirely of exploring the surface, but we know there will be underground caverns as well. Actually, the demo ended with us opening an alien ruin and darting inside to escape from a tornado. Underground areas are going to be some of the most dangerous spots because they are pitch black. The demo provided us with a flashlight that had a pretty important limitation: It is solar-powered and replenishes during the day. Go into the dark caves, and you'll find that the flashlight power drains rather quickly.

The Solus Project is shaping up to be a very interesting game. It reminds me a lot of old-school PC survival games, with a heavy emphasis on your own survival instead of killing enemies or escaping dangers. The main mystery also provides an interesting reason to keep going. There must be a reason that this seemingly uninhabited planet has very prominent ruins on it. It's difficult to judge where the game will go, but the challenge of survival should be an interesting one. The Solus Project is expected to release for Xbox One and PC in 2016.

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