Thursday , May 23 2024
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Videogame Review: ‘Fort Solis’ – A Thrilling Walk in the Boots of a Mars Colonist

Imagine a world so alien and different that, while the air and atmosphere can kill, there is nothing more terrifying than the other colonists on the planet with you. Fort Solis presents us with an interactive narrative experience that is more thriller than game and delivers a smart and tight experience that has stuck with me for days.

Set on Mars, Fort Solis follows colony worker Jack Leary (voiced and Mocapped by Roger Clark) as he responds to a routine alarm call at the base of Fort Solis. What follows is a slowly escalating thriller set across four chapters, roughly an hour long each, framed like a limited series on Netflix or HBO.

What grabbed my attention instantly with Fort Solis is the deep devotion to detail, tone and atmosphere and the stunning visuals of this experience. I say experience because this is not a typical game, but a deeply interactive narrative event.

There is no inventory, no weapons aside from some pseudo-interactive action sequences, no run button nor an on-screen UI to speak of. Instead we are in the boots of Jack Leary (and later another protagonist) as the world of the experience is explored and the mystery of the abandoned station unveiled.

It is a slow burn with an initially light-hearted approach to the characters of Jack and his partner Jessica (Julia Brown) as he responds to a routine alarm at the nearby Fort Solis. As he explores and determines something is very wrong, the tone shifts, and exploration is the key to discovering what exactly happened at this mysterious fort.

Solis is framed as an older settlement on Mars and one that is shrouded in a bit of a mystery. Jack explores the ever-opening areas looking at video recordings, picking up clues and finding audio logs as well as enhanced clearances to progress further.

The experience is very much akin to an Interactive novel, but one presented in fully realized and explorable 3D space that continually blew me away with its fidelity and detail. Different areas, private quarters, labs and, hell, even bathrooms were loaded with small touches that just made the world feel alive and real.

I took nearly 80 screenshots as I explored Fort Solis because I was continually amazed by the level of care, detail and lived-in aspects developer Fallen Leaf injected into each and every corner of this world. It truly needs to be seen to be believed and is a high water mark of immersiveness for me in interactive experiences.

The performances of the lead actors Roger Clark, Julia Brown and a riveting Troy Baker truly add to the atmosphere of Fort Solis. My only (minor) gripe is how main character Jack Leary reacted initially to the scenario; I felt some heightened responses could have propelled this further. But these were still a magnetic set of performances.

I finished Fort Solis in two nights of playing and have thought about the game on and off since, as one of those compelling experiences I am beyond grateful to have enjoyed. I know the gaming world will have a raging debate on length (it is four to six hours) versus value, but let me tell you there is very little out there like Fort Solis and it is well worth your gaming time and money.

Fort Solis is a stunning, atmospheric, brilliant and innovative take on the sci-fi thriller, packed with amazing performances in a world that is compelling and stunning to experience.

We were provided a PS5 code for review purposes from Fort Solis publisher Dear Villagers. Fort Solis is available now on PC via Steam and PlayStation 5.

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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