A huge storm called Red Solstice has swept the planet of Mars knocking out communication with human colonies. Someone has to investigate. This is where your story begins as one of eight marines in Red Solstice.
I downloaded my copy of Red Solstice and fired it up as soon as the magic play button lit up in my steam console.
One of the best parts of starting a new game is the anticipation of entering a new world with new things to discover. The opening scene always sets the tone of the story and begins your immersion into the game.
Red Solstice fails miserably at first impressions. The scene opens to a dark screen with a crudely drawn ship in the foreground and the red planet Mars in the background.
Words appear on the screen reciting a strangely familiar sci-fi plot about a planet that has gone dark and marines must be sent in to investigate. The worst part of this whole scene is the voice acting. There are no other word I can use to describe it but, terrible. I pray that the voice over used is just a placeholder until the final version of Red Solstice is finished.
I know it was a Kickstarter project and the budgets not there, but this is the face of your game. You have to make your first impressions count.
Strike one for first impressions.
About early access. When does a game move from early access to completed version? I wanted to know when I could expect a completed version of Red Solstice so I jumped over to the Red Solstice home page and the latest news was from July of this year. I went back to Steam curious as to when the game had last been updated. October of this year. That’s not too bad so any fears I may have had that the game had been abandoned were satisfied. I chocked it up to a busy team with a neglected home page . Just to be clear the forums at the Red Solstice page are active and up-to-date.
If you want to play Red Solstice you will have to drop a twenty at Steam, which is no big deal except for the fact that all I could find about when a completed build would be available is this “It will be in Early Access until we’re ready to release it. We’re anticipating at least a few months.” Wow! That strips my confidence in the Ironward team. It’s been in early access since July.
Back to first impression.
I decided to play through the prologue to get a grip on game mechanics before I tried my hand at co-op. Of course I had a bad experience with my first play through as the game bugged out on me. It wasn’t one of those bugs where the screen faltered and went black. Or one of those where I got stuck in the floor or wall. This was the worst kind of bug because I didn’t know that the game had bugged.
The mission was to head south and catch up with the rest of my team. Then, myself and the team were to follow the waypoints on the map. So I caught up with my fellow marines who promptly gave a spiel about moving out. I headed to the next shiny red dot on the map. No team. I was probably supposed to talk to one of the other AI. I went back to where they had congregated firing away at baddies and tried to speak to each of the team members. No Success. Ohhh! I know I’m supposed to head to the next way point by myself and they will catch up. No next way point. Ohhh! I’m supposed to activate all of the power generators before my team can follow. Nope! Ohhh! These fuel barrels explode when you throw ’em I’m supposed to destroy this nest. Nope! The game bugged. That’s when I restarted and begrudgingly played through the prologue.
Strike two for first impressions.
Prologue down, time for some co-op play. I entered into what seemed to be a regional lobby where one guy was hanging out. I spoke to be polite letting him know I was a noob to the game. No response. He must have been AFK. No problem I’ll just head over to the Global lobby and take this thing worldwide. What? The same guy. Where was everyone? Could I possibly be the only person in the world playing Red Solstice at this moment. Just me and the mute guy chilling in the lobby. So I channeled, my best Kevin Costner and decided to host my own game. “If I host it they will come.” Nope. Just me sitting in a room with a bunch of Red Solstice match options that I don’t understand and no one to explain.
First Impressions strike three.
Then there came one.
As I was chilling in the lobby looking over character options of which there are many that can only be understood through trial and error a blip appeared in the lobby. Someone else had decided to spend the evening knocking down some Red Solstice. After a brief introduction, I was able to talk my new-found friend into hosting a match.
Red Solstice for all of its flaws is a decent game! A tough game ,but with my new-found guide I was able to gleam some tips and tricks before eventually being crushed by a giant ball on a chain wielded by a giant mutant of some type. My only hope was for my new friend to survive long enough for me to respawn. No luck. After a good fight, my counterpart was torn to shreds by the enemy horde.
I exited to the lobby and to my surprise several more players were getting ready to start a new match. I joined and was asked to play a medic so I jumped into my new medic gear without a clue as to what I was doing and died repeatedly. Needless to say I was no help at all to my teammates.
The balance is all wrong.
The biggest problem with Red Solstice is that as you play you level up. Which is a good thing right? Not if the game is not balanced. There is no mechanism in the game to enforce team work. Red Solstice is a co-op strategy game. It should in some way make the different character roles valuable to the team. I spent many a match trying to keep up with the more advanced players because I hadn’t earned enough speed bonuses to keep up with the team. In this scenario I died repeatedly and there was nothing I could do about it. There were also many matches where the team simply raced to get the best stuff out of the lockers with no regard for their teammates. There are several different character classes heavy, assault, and medic just to name a few, but there are no incentives for the different classes to work together to achieve a common goal.
Deep down Red Solstice has what it takes to be a good game if you can get past the steep learning curve, cold sometimes unfriendly community, bad first impressions, empty lobbies, unusually high price point for an incomplete product, and buggy game play due to early access issues.
Perhaps when Ironward announces that it has completed Red Solstice it will be worth another play and these issues will have been taken care of.
Did I get it wrong? If so, let me know in the comments section below.