The Solus Project is Fallout in Space
Space walk with me
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I spent my first few minutes in The Solus Project from Teotl Studios trying to stay calm. Its opening is a doozy: bright light sprays the screen in brief flashes, illuminating the console of a small spacecraft. Everything rattles as said spacecraft hurtles out of the sky and crashes into the surface of a planet, with loud beeps and a robot voice shouting warnings punctuating the din. My view shook, the sound was overpowering--it was an overwhelming, anxiety-inducing introduction to the game.
The Solus Project is a first-person survival simulator--essentially, it's Fallout in space. You are alone (or are you?) on a planet, with no human contact. All you have is your battered radio and a desperation to survive. You must salvage what remains of your spacecraft to find nourishment and craft items like torches, as well as scavenge the land for fresh water and other edibles. Like in Fallout, you spend a majority of your time rambling around in search of survival tools and things to interact with. Also like Fallout, you can pick up most of the debris you find and use it to craft better items. The only difference with Solus is that you can craft on the fly, immediately creating something new from the thing you just stumbled upon. Outside of the opening tutorial, where you are guided through some basic crafting, you are completely on your own when it comes to what to do next.
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This all sounds fairly basic as far as survival games go, but what makes The Solus Project a little more than just "Fallout in space" is the audio design. One minute you are walking along a sandy beach, watching the planet's moons spin lazily across the sky, blotting out a seemingly endless cloud of stars, the next you're running from a tornado. Accompanying these environment shifts are escalating background music and the whoosh of air and rain as the storm builds up. I didn't think much of the rain until my radio chirped, "Atmospheric anomaly detected," and when I spun around and laid eyes on the giant black, twisting tornado coming across the ocean in my direction, I physically panicked. Background music became eerie and louder, and that coupled with the genuinely unsettling view of the tornado made me feel deeply uncomfortable. I rushed back to my cave to wait out the storm, barely diving in before the tornado made landfall.
The Solus Project marries some truly epic music to its scenarios, music that genuinely terrorizes your nerves. But it also pairs up more sorrowful tones for when your exploration does not go well. As I caught hypothermia and slowly died, struggling to find something, anything to warm me up, a soft piano tune wafted into my ears. It felt like the game was mourning my demise, and I felt like I was a character dying in some grand dramatic film more than one in a video game who had made some unfortunate choices. It was sad, and a little sweet, and had its no doubt intended emotional effect of making me somber.
The Solus Project is due out on Xbox One and PC this May.