The Solus Project Review – A VR Must Have Game

Grip Games releases its final version of The Solus Project on Xbox One and PC and having been in Early Access since the beginning of the year and being almost three years in the making. As humanity’s last hope, your job is to investigate a strange planet having crash landed there, although as you would expect there’s more to the planet than meets the eye. With some 15 hours of gameplay is this worth getting especially for VR gamers looking for something with more meat. Take a look at our The Solus Project review for the full picture.

The Solus Project Review:

Today we’re taking a look at Grip Games’ The Solus Project which has seen a release on Xbox One and PC. You play as either a male or female colonist who has crash landed on a strange planet as mankind’s last hope for survival. Having survived an exploding spaceship and the impact with the planet, your character has to fend for themselves as they discover that life on the once thought as barren isn’t what it first appears.

In a nutshell, and let’s not beat around the bush here, The Solus Project is very much a walking simulator in its most basic form. However, there are elements of survival to be mindful of, puzzles to solve and the option to freely move around various locations to create an impression of untethered actions.

Starting the game is pretty straight forward and introduces picking up objects, combining them to create new ones and general basics of survival. Players have to keep their character warm, well fed, rested and drinking plenty of water. Any one of these gets neglected and your chances of survival take a nose dive. Rather than pit you against hordes of alien creatures (although there are some) with lasers and swords, you’re mostly up against the elements which can turn your progress into mush without a moments notice. Wind, rain, snow, tornados, meteor storms can all have an adverse effect on your character’s well-being and so there’s a tactical element to moving about when in the open.

The game switches between interior structures and caves to more expansive outdoor island areas which offers some neat contrasts. It’s pretty claustrophobic in most of the dark and wet passages which emphasises some relief when you make it outdoors again. However, the whole game is baked in mystery and if you’ve an inquisitive mind there’s plentiful documents, alien scrawlings, paintings to look at with your handy scanner. This is the game’s story which provides a greater sense of purpose for your character, although that said, it’s perfectly feasible to ignore it all and just push forwards thanks to some helpful objective markers. In this regard the game does a fine job of drawing you in and keeping you well focused on what needs to be done.

If there is one negative here is that on occasion you’ll be faced with a puzzle or have your progress blocked by an impassable object. You might be missing a specific item and with no clues offered to find the item can leave you scratching your head for a while – before giving up and searching online for a solution. The vagueness isn’t very user friendly and due to the fact you’re moving around at slow speeds means backtracking can take some of the edge out of the exploration.

Aside from pushing switches, gathering parts, unlocking doors and picking up edible or usable items the onus is very much placing you into the shoes of a lost soul, alone and making new discoveries. It works very well despite the slow pacing and lack of action which gives the game a much more foreboding presence.

Visually, there’s some fantastic real-time day to night transitions when outside in the open with excellent vistas and wonderful views of the stars at night. Whilst it’s not the most detailed of games and does reuse quite a lot of its assets, it still boasts enough fine qualities to keep players immersed especially when playing in VR with either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. The only main negative is a lack of life on the planet where some more alien creatures could have injected a bit more personality into the planet.

There are quite a few options to tinker with to suit your PC in terms of performance and play style which is good, although the control method using the Vive wands (especially turning) is a little fiddly and disorientating at times. It takes a bit of patience to get used to the VR control method where a standard controller comes out on top even if it’s less immersive. That said, once using the wands become second nature and you can just game, you’ll be taken away to new places unlike anything out there at the moment. In terms of putting players into an alternate reality, the game succeeds even if it doesn’t take advantage of the Vive’s unique features such as roomscale and picking up objects with hands. The Solus Project is a purely seated experience that works well as a captivating foray into colonization of an unexplored mysterious planet – a VR story that pulls you in for hours at a time. In fact it’s one of the few games where you can just sit and play without keeping the eye on the clock and with over 15 hours of gameplay on offer means there’s plenty of bang for your buck here.

Audio is also handled very well with numerous environmental sound effects and some excellent music to carry through the more dramatic moments. There’s also a spot of voice acting which isn’t overused and is perfectly implemented in light of keeping the player as the main focus.

As mentioned there’s quite a number of hours worth of gameplay on offer and as a VR game your mileage might extend further given the potential for just standing on a moonlit beach watching the stars and taking it all in. For those who do beat the game there’s options to replay with tougher survival elements which means, more item management and less focus on hand holding like you see at default settings.

The Solus Project comes as a fairly placid game in 2D despite the promise of mysterious adventure and hybrid gameplay. However, in VR it takes on a whole new level of detail and immerses the player into an impressive sci-fi adventure that’s very much a must have game for those who are looking for a more laid back adventure experience. Action fans need not apply here as this game isn’t for you, but if you have an open mind to explore and survive then this comes highly recommended, and with its low price point you’ll certainly get your monies worth.

Score 8.5/10

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.