Close to the Sunhas a great premise and a fascinating setting for players to explore across its narrative-driven, walking simulator-style adventure – it’s just a shame that the Nintendo Switch probably isn’t the best place to experience it.
Close to the Sun puts you in the role of Rose, a young journalist who looks to investigate a huge cruise-ship named the Helios after her sister asks for her help. The Helios itself is unique, not only because of its over-the-top and extravagant architecture, but also because it was built by Nikola Tesla as a home for his latest scientific experiments. Of course, things have obviously gone wrong on the ship, and it’s up to Rose to find out why and help her sister out in the process.
I found myself totally invested in Close to the Sun’s narrative. The premise itself is pretty fascinating and something I was on board with, whilst all of the little secrets you uncover from documents just added to the allure of the Helios. There’s no doubting that it’s easy to draw comparisons to Bioshock (especially with the setting itself which is full of stunning architecture but holds some dark secrets), but the game still manages to feel unique. Something I particularly appreciated was how Nikola Tesla tied into the game and how he’s portrayed in such a different manner – it adds this almost realistic vibe to the tale, whilst still managing to feel outlandish in design. I just really, really enjoyed seeing the game’s story through to its conclusion.
Whilst Close to the Sun plays like a narrative-driven walking simulator, it does have some sequences which require a bit more thought from the player. There are some very basic puzzles to encounter for example, whilst there’ll also be times when you’ve got to flee from a threatening knife-wielding enemy – did I mention that the game takes a horror approach with some gruesome sights, jump scares, and this nasty baddy? These things do spice the experience up a little, but there’s no denying that Close to the Sun is at its best when it simply allows the player to soak up the narrative and atmosphere.
It’s just a shame that everything in the game is so hard to appreciate thanks to the technical flaws. Don’t get me wrong, Close to the Sun is playable on the Nintendo Switch, but you’ll have to deal with an inconsistent frame rate, a lower resolution that can make some areas seem blurry, and even a delay to button inputs on some occasions. For the most part, the game is a linear experience that you can play at your own pace so it isn’t as big a problem, but during the chase sequences where you’ve got to react a little quicker, they can be a lot more frustrating. It’s a shame to say, but I think that if you want to have the best experience with Close to the Sun you’d be better off playing it on a different platform.
Close to the Sun has all the makings of a truly distinct adventure thanks to its clever premise and intriguing setting, but the technical issues on the Nintendo Switch just seem to hold it back throughout. What should be beautiful environments look a bit blurry and dull with the dropped resolution, whilst tense chase sequences feel more frustrating thanks to a sketchy frame rate. It’s just disappointing.
There’s no doubting that the game deserves some merit because I enjoyed being a part of the world and seeing the story through to its conclusion – I just couldn’t help but to wish that I played Close to the Sun on a platform that was capable of delivering the adventure at a higher standard.
Developer: Storm in a Teacup
Publisher: Wired Productions
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC