Of all the games I was planning to check out at PAX East (and there were a ton of them) Fort Solis was the one I was most excited to get my hands on. This third-person thriller set on Mars was a highlight of the Summer Games fest last year and I have been eager to see more. Thankfully my hands-on experience did not disappoint.
Playing the role of engineer Jack Leary (played by Red Dead Redemption 2‘s Roger Clark) I found my demo started with a mid-game sequence (to avoid spoilers) having me explore a section of Fort Solis and solving a few puzzles. As I started exploring, the developer on hand from Fallen Leaf let me know that despite appearances this game is not a horror title; instead it will be more of a psychological thriller.
As I started exploring the dilapidated and abandoned station I could understand what he meant. Throughout my 30-minute experience with Fort Solis I never had an alien or monster pop out, but I had a deep feeling of loneliness and isolation that really stuck with me long after I left the demo.
The lighting, environments, suit, actions, heaviness of feel and atmosphere of the world they have created made me feel as if I were there, with only a layer of fabric between me and the cold void of the station. The team at Fallen Leaf took very special care to evoke this level of tension without resorting to horror tropes, and it sucked me right in.
Compared to something like Dead Space or The Callisto Protocol, this is a much slower-paced experience (at least in the slice I saw) but one that gripped me from he very start. The graphics and animations are a big part of this; I literally said “wow” a good five or six times while I played the short demo.
To say this is a gorgeous game is an understatement. The graphics themselves are some of the best I have seen, but the performances by Roger Clark, Troy Baker and Julia Brown just put them to another level. While I only scratched the surface of what the game will show us, I was blown away, not only by the main gameplay and dialogue, but even by the video messages and audio recordings, which were impressively done.
After solving a few puzzles, chatting with my handler, and seeing some history of the station via voice and video logs, the demo ended and I wanted more immediately. The developer told me that the narrative journey is the key principle of the game, so much so that key moments will never be static cutscenes; instead they will be key sequence moments.
These key sequences will be controllable and in-game, meaning the player be able to impact the narrative and the choices will have consequences on the story as the game progresses. I did not see any of this in action, but if they pull it off it will be incredibly cool to experience on each playthrough.
The developer also let me know a huge new fact as I was wrapping up: The game will release for PS5 as well as the previously announced PC version. This was fantastic news as the game will fit right into the PlayStation’s narrative rich ecosystem.
I truly enjoyed my time with Fort Solis, and even though I had been already excited to experience it, the game exceeded my expectations. The narrative vision was great to see as were the stunning graphics and atmospheric tension throughout the demo. This will be a Day One play for me once it releases this summer on PC via Steam and PlayStation 5.