Solstice Chronicles: MIA is a different approach by Ironward on the universe of their previous game, The Red Solstice, an online multi-player game focused on teamwork and surviving an alien onslaught. The game takes place in Mars, in the aftermath of a STROL outbreak, a virus that once overrun Earth and forced the survivors to colonize the red planet. You play as the lone survivor of squad of marines from the Elysium Corporation, as you attempt to get to safety and unravel who or what was responsible for the outbreak.
The game offers both a campaign and a survival mode, as well as local co-op. The campaign consists in 22 levels, which you can play in one of five different difficulties, and it should last you around 6 hours, depending on the difficulty you play in. The story mode is pretty much a series of streamlined missions in which you’ll be going from point A to point B, while occasionally holding off waves of enemies while waiting for a door to open. As for the survival mode, it’s your standard wave survival mode in which you have to hold out for as long as you can or until you reach the point that an EVAC will come and get you. Once this happens, you’ll be able to either leave and keep all your stuff, or you can stay and fight even more. The longer you last, the bigger the rewards will be.
Much like The Red Solstice, in Chronicles you can also pick one from a series of classes. Right from the start you can pick either the Assault, the Demolition or the Hellfire. Once you beat the game on Soldier difficulty you’ll unlock the Terminator class. Each of them look and play differently, with the Assault class focusing on standardized weapons and melee, the Demolition focusing on skills, the Hellfire focusing on tanking and the use of a flamethrower, and the Terminator, which focuses on crowd control and teleporting.
This time around, the Ironward team focused on delivering a single-player experience and a much more traditional top-down twin-stick shooter. In terms of controls, the game will feel extremely similar to others in the genre, and if you’ve played anything like this before, the controls will pretty much instantly click with you. Now, while most of the game’s mechanics follow the trend of the genre, the game does introduce some mechanics that spice things up a little bit. One of these is the Threat Level, which is associated with the amount and strength of enemies that can spawn in the map. Besides that, you’re also accompanied by a flying drone which plays a vital role by not only assisting you in completing certain objectives, but by also giving you 4 unique abilities. Depending on the difficulty that you’re playing, how you use these can be the difference between living or dying. With that said, the abilities consist of a scout ability, which sends your drone to search for supplies but increases your threat level, a taunt, which decreases the threat level but makes it so that tougher enemies can spawn, an area of effect called Block, which both slows down and pushes away enemies, and, lastly, the ability to activate a Nuke bomb, in which the longer you wait in order to detonate it the bigger the explosion will be.
Once you reach a certain point, fairly early on in the campaign, after each mission you’ll be brought up to a loadout screen. Here you can pick which weapons you want to carry, as well as up to three different abilities. Besides that, you’ll also gain points that you can use to upgrade and develop your class, by acquiring things such as less weapon spread, decreased reload time, a chance that each bullet fired will inflict a certain type of elemental damage on an enemy, increased health, as well as boosting up your drone’s skills.
In terms of controls, the game handles perfectly fine either with keyboard and mouse, or with a controller. For instance, you control your character movement and where you want to aim separately, either with the correspondent analog sticks or with the WASD keys and the mouse. With that said, you have to press a specific key in order to aim in the direction you have your crosshair, and the character has to first rotate, instead of instantly aiming where you want it to aim, so that might take some getting used to.
Besides what has already been mentioned, there’s not much else to be said about Solstice Chronicles: MIA. The game tries to innovate by bringing some new things to the table but these still don’t feel like enough to make it worth recommending when there are other far more competent and compelling titles out there. It’s not that it’s a bad game, it’s just that it’s probably not worth enough to warrant most people’s time, it’s not compelling. However, if you’ve been looking for a more tactile top-down shooter that rewards exploration and requires some rather cautious resource management, this might be something that can entertain you for a few hours.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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