I love playing a random little game where my expectations aren’t particularly high, but then getting pleasantly surprised by the fun experience it offers. It’s happened a lot of the last few years, especially with indie releases, and it’s happened again now with Solo – the new release from the developers at Team Gotham.
The bulk of Solo is spent exploring vivid islands, solving simple-yet-clever puzzles, and then answering genuinely touching questions about love. It’s a combination that could perhaps be accused of being a little bit pretentious, but it actually works well to offer a charming little journey for players to embark on.
The world of Solo itself is peaceful, with each step you take across the islands feeling like a moment of solace for the player. The game features one of those worlds that’s just pleasant to be a part of, and whilst you don’t necessarily interact with it too much, it’s easy to appreciate all of its little details.
One thing I did really like was playing my guitar in-game. Don’t go expecting some Guitar Hero-esque mini-game or something, but rather just harmonic tunes that change up the island in a variety of creative ways. You learn more songs as you progress and they all do something a little different, though never in a way that’s demanded in order to progress – it’s a feature that’s included in the game just because. It’s nice.
Something which isn’t always nice (though not in a bad way) are the questions about love that’re asked of the player every so often. Now it’s easy to not necessarily take these questions seriously, but if you take on the mind-set that the game demands you’ll find that they’re quite meaningful and show the fragilities of relationships as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t do enough to get me too emotionally engaged with the experience, but it’s hard to deny that it was presented in an evocative and touching way.
On the puzzling side of things, you’ll mainly be arranging boxes to put together make-shift platforms to reach different areas of the map. It might sound a little simple – and in fairness it can be – but Solo keeps it interesting by introducing different objects to interact with and by increasing the intricacy of each puzzle. Each type of box you can interact with does something different too, so you’ve got to carefully figure out how they work and how best to utilise them if you want to get through some of the game’s trickier segments.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing here that you wouldn’t have seen before and it’s also clear that the puzzling elements of the game aren’t necessarily at the forefront, but they add a neat assortment of enigmas for players to solve in between exploring the island and answering questions about love.
For the most part Solo is an easy-going game to play, though the controls could be guilty of feeling a little fiddly at times. Moving the boxes around (as well as the moments of platforming) demands a precision that isn’t always there, and it could prove a little frustrating. The camera doesn’t always track the player perfectly either, though it’s not a constant problem throughout the game – instead, it’s something that crops up here and there when working across particular sections of the islands. Neither of these problems make Solo less enjoyable to play, but they’re noticeable nonetheless.
It should only take around four hours or so to complete Solo, though that feels long enough. Whilst the world is lovely to explore and the puzzles fun to solve, neither have the depth required to really absorb the player into the game for too long. Whilst I wasn’t necessarily itching for the game to end, the conclusion came at the perfect moment for me not to start to tire of the game’s simplicity.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is Solo’s visuals. I’m a huge fan of vibrant worlds and colourful aesthetic styles, and it’s something that the game embraces perfectly. The world itself doesn’t feature overly complicated structures nor is it full to the brim with detailed textures or objects, yet it’s so charming and lively that it’s hard not feel besotted by it all. Solo is just a wonderful little game to look at.
Developer: Team Gotham
Publisher: Team Gotham
Release Date: Out Now