It’s been about a year since The Solus Project was released on Xbox One to a lukewarm reception. However, after a year, the survival adventure horror game has come to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. With time passed and a new way to experience the game, will it make it a difference? Let’s find out.
The gameplay to The Solus Project varies depending on how you play it. If you play the non-VR mode, the game handles as you would expect a standard first-person shooter would. However, with VR mode they do something both interesting and innovating. One of VR player’s biggest worries is how traditional first-person shooters play in this new reality. Some games will put the movement on rails, taking control out of it completely. Some games choose to use a standard controller, opting out of using the PlayStation Move wands because of its lack of analog sticks. Some utilize the new PlayStation Aim controller that not only lets you move around with analog sticks but also gives you the feeling you’re holding a real gun while you aim and pull a trigger.
The Solus Project takes a different approach. The game, in VR mode, uses two Move wands. These wands control your right and left hand like in most first-person shooter VR games. Although, instead of choosing to put the game on rails, they did something I’ve never seen before and hope to see more of. On every Move wand, there is what’s called a Move button. A button that is perfectly placed to where your thumb rests on the controller. This is how you move. By holding down the left Move button your character will start to move forward. To move to the left or right you simply look in that direction, and to rotate your body you simply hit the X button on the right Move controller to rotate left and the Circle button on the left controller to rotate right. This is one of the most innovative ways I’ve seen the Move controller used. The way you control your character isn’t the only way The Solus Project is innovative.
The Solus Project has combined two genres I’ve not been accustomed to seeing together: Survival Horror and Survival. In most Survival games you’re tasked with maintaining your food, water, sleep, and whatever other bars you would have to worry about in the environment you’re in, such as cold, wet, hot, etc. These elements usually don’t mix well with Survival Horror. In both Survival games and Survival Horror games, inventory space can be the reason you live or die, but in both games, you need very different things to survive. Guns, bullets, knives, med kits; these are crucial for surviving in a Survival Horror game, while in a normal Survival game you need things like water, food, fire. Both of these things take up a finite amount of room in your inventory and without exploring to find backpacks to increase your storage, I was left picking and choosing what I needed, or eating and drinking at inopportune times. This forced me to do something I usually never do; play on easy. I will admit I’m not very good at Survival games. I get lost in my objective and the world that I very frequently forget to eat or rehydrate until my health is depleting because of it. However, what I really appreciate about The Solus Project is that, when you lower the difficulty, you don’t make the world easier, you diminish your need to eat, sleep, and drink. This allowed me to dive deeper into the world and the story. Even though I was not playing the game how the developer intended, I gained respect for the developers for having the foresight to know some players find Survival elements stressful.
The game is both beautiful in and out of VR. This alien planet is both familiar and foreign. Giant plants that look like they could have been from Earth, but are also like nothing I’ve ever seen before. One second a calm morning can change, without warning, into a massive storm with tornadoes and wind that feels like it can rip right through you. This is something I’ve never seen in a VR game, let alone a standard open world game. Most of the game is spent exploring in between these storms and being awestruck at the environment around you. This not only aids exploration but also progresses the story.
As you explore, the story always has a waypoint to guide you in the right direction. Slabs of stone with alien words carved in them sheds light on the story. Alien skeletons throughout the world help motivate you into discovering what happened here while also looking for a way off the planet. This is a strange world that will give you as many questions as answers while you continually explore this world.
The Solus Project is the answer to anyone who says, “There are no real games on PSVR.” The game is anywhere from 15-20 hours long depending on how much you explore. With a truly open world and living environment, you will be hard struck to find any reason to stop playing. The only real gripe I had with the game is its load times. While infrequent, they lasted around a minute to complete. This pulled me out of the experience a few times. Although it didn’t push me away enough to stop playing. If you have a PlayStation VR and are looking to get lost in a world then The Solus Project is for you. I’ve been on a new planet and the feeling was amazing.