Fort Solis - Review

British studio Fallen Leaf, with support of Black Drakkar Games, decided to implement colonization of Mars instead of space battles.

Sep 15, 2023 - 15:09
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Fort Solis - Review
Review of a scientific and space computer game from the British studio Fallen Leaf with the support of Black Drakkar Games.

Science fiction is now experiencing a new renaissance amid a crisis of ideas and audience fatigue from hackneyed solutions. The British studio Fallen Leaf, with the support of Black Drakkar Games, decided to turn to the topic of colonization of Mars instead of space battles or multi-colored shooters. And if Matt Damon's hero perfectly grew potatoes on the red planet, the inhabitants of Fort Solis were held hostage by a local psychopath because of the agrarian revolution. The stellar cast, including Troy Baker, Roger Clark and Julia Brown, as well as the atmosphere of desolation and oppressive danger promised high-class horror. But something clearly went wrong here.

The Fort Solis events begin at the moment when engineers Jack Leary and Jessica Appleton receive a distress signal from the Fort Solis drilling and research station. A sandstorm is approaching a Martian colony cut off from the world, and the rescue operation becomes a dangerous journey in conditions of extreme visibility. Arriving at Solis by all-terrain vehicle, Jack discovers that the complex is completely isolated, and the local team does not get in touch. And then the painful journey begins with the tugging of the door hatches, the quick pressing of the QTE and the unhurried walking along the nondescript corridors. At the same time, successfully executed QTEs practically do not affect anything.

Jack Leary is a former Marine, but his combat training is clearly a thing of the past. He walks very slowly, which is annoying in conditions of constant backtracking, and too often sighs about the vicissitudes of life. Regular communication sessions with Jessica should support the storyline, but for the most part only clog up the airwaves. The multitool located on the hero's arm collects all detected voice messages and video recordings of crew members, and also offers a floor map, but it is very problematic to deal with navigation. The navigation arrow jumps, and without signatures it is not entirely clear what and where it is. Fortunately, the creators have made marks on the walls and highlight the necessary objects, and in especially difficult moments they literally lead by the hand to the intended goal.

In addition to numerous QTEs for breaking locks, climbing a steep wall or hand-to-hand battles, the game offers interactivity with a limited set of items. You can have a beer at a local bar, play with a robot, hit a punching bag or collect a Rubik's cube with one hand. Sometimes there are difficult puzzles where you need to find the code from the safe among the numerous records or restart the servers in the proper order. But all these elements cannot pull out a very slow Tacoma-style narrative. However, there was a social drama and a complicated history of relationships, and here we have a rather weak plot about a crew slowly going crazy on an isolated station. And although the game tries to frighten with surround sounds and sudden incidents, it is possible to tolerate unhurried walking in 2023 only with a very strong desire to find out how it will all end.

Closer to the finale, the authors suggest a sudden turn, soon followed by a bright ending, but this is clearly not enough. The bonus collection of posters can satisfy fans of collecting, but it does not affect the disclosure of characters in any way and does not make the story more interesting. Of the pleasant "bonuses" it is worth noting that the game is translated into Russian with subtitles.

Against the background of a weak scenario and sluggish gameplay, Fort Solis boasts very advanced graphics. There is a high level of detail of the characters with movable pupils and blinking, and volumetric lighting, and a good overall animation. But a beautiful picture without a strong plot basis or interesting mechanics is not able to turn the game from Cinderella into a princess.

Fort Solis is a beautiful, but very boring story with high potential squandered on a stellar cast and areas of limited interactivity. And if not for the last 10 minutes of this game, it could be called a thoughtless waste of precious time.

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