SelectButton’s Early Access reviews provide valuable insight into a work in progress. The game will be reevaluated once officially released, as the review below is based on the Early Access build of the game at the time of the review’s published date.
The Red Solstice, currently on Steam through Early Access, is an interesting top-down tactical shooter for PC. Developed by the Croatian team at Ironward and published by Nkidu Games, the game is quite ambitious and is shaping itself up to be something to certainly play with friends. The game takes place on the wonderfully red planet of Mars during what’s dubbed as the “Red Solstice,” a long-lasting dust storm. The single-player story centers around the Alpha Squad, a group sent to investigate what is essentially the capital of Mars and find out why communications have ceased during the storms. Expect to take this group across the cityscape in an attempt to figure out what is happening and what needs to be done to survive (and maybe stop the situation).
What truly drew me into this game was the multiplayer aspect. The game can be played online with up to eight players, diving into missions within the game and taking down the strange and vile creatures let loose upon the city. Oh, that and the raiders and looters that have set up shop in a few places as well. There is no real respite when online and even on the easiest difficulty setting, the game is challenging for a large group. Enemies will continue to seek you out, wave after wave of mutilated things and giant lumbering beasts. Honestly though, I’m not sure what they are or where they came from; I only know they are hellbent on killing your little squad as fast as possible.
The game, even in multiplayer, is a bit freeform. You’re tasked with turning on power, or finding raiders and eliminating, or rescuing survivors. Whatever it is, there’s no pressure to go for the mission unless you want off the godforsaken planet. The first map included in the game is quite large and players are free to explore it as they see fit. There are more dangerous areas, like the center square, but the outlying areas are no walk in the park either. Along the way, you can gather supplies, reactivate power nodes and sentry turrets, and lay down blockades to prevent enemy pursuit. These really just help you survive longer and longer, but eventually the enemy waves reach a crescendo of terribleness with boss creatures capable of eliminating half or your health in a single attack.
You, as a player though, have the ability to fight back. The game is very reminiscent of Diablo and other click-tastic games, requiring players be deft with their mouse hand. Normally this is a deal breaker for me, but once I figured out the controls through the steep learning curve (somewhere after 5 or 6 games of dying), I began to appreciate the controls. Throughout the levels are additional items and weapons to find and use. Outside of the levels, players earn both level experience and class experience. Leveling your character grants access to additional armors, weapons, and skill whereas class experience helps to bolster whatever class you enjoy using. There are 8 in total and I found myself drawn to the Heavy Support class the most. The downside here is early in the game, choices are extremely limited (Heavy Support, Assault, and Medic are the starters) and players must trudge through many deaths before they may unlock the next class.
The Red Solstice for me is an incredibly interesting game, one I thoroughly enjoyed playing co-op on. It’s not without some of its own bugs and glitches, but being an Early Access game, this should be expected. It is currently available through Steam.Note: The Red Solstice (Early Access) was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.