Does VR survival simulator The Solus Project deliver?
The Solus Project is a first-person survival game with support for HTC’s Vive VR kit. This review is mainly based on my VR experience, but I will touch on the game as played on a regular monitor.
The game starts with the player encased in a space craft escape pod plummeting to the ground. To the regular gamer the experience nicely set-up the story, as a shipwrecked survivor on an alien planet. In VR the game starts by placing you in a tight space being shaken apart. It’s claustrophobic and a little bit scary.
On the surface, you need to find essential items that will enable you to survive to the cold of your first night alone on the planet. You scavenge for supplies among the debris field from your crashed spacecraft. To your left a vast alien ocean with a strange island on the horizon. A structure maybe?
To the left is a totally uninviting cavern entrance- which is, of course, the only shelter. So in you go.
The control scheme took a while to get used to. When I started the review the developers were still tweaking support for the Vive motion controllers, so most of the initial issues are behind us. Recent updates have added the de facto VR standard teleport locomotion system to the game and cleaned up the visuals on the Vive.
The game’s graphics, when played on a monitor, are nothing to shout about. They are capable, but you’ll likely have seen better.
When played in VR on the Vive, however, the alien planet comes alive and pops out at you in a way that 2D graphics could never convey. Small details that you’d ordinary ignore become interesting and worthy of examination as you explore the amazing 3D game world that you really become immersed inside.
The spectacle of the night sky, burning debris streaking across it. The desolation of being alone in a vast environment visible all around you. The mystery and sense of foreboding that accompanies you as you discover the planet’s secrets. All of this is what makes The Solus Project one of the best VR experiences available today.
There were quite a few moments that honestly unnerved me. Like when the rising water in a cavern plunged me into darkness, leaving me with nothing but the feint glimmer of a distant light to guide though an eerie soundscape.
VR really enables you to experience the isolation of being shipwrecked and alone on an alien planet. The day/night cycle and the constant fight for survival with the elements, thirst and hunger all out to make you an unwelcome alien corpse on this beautiful, but hostile world.
Of all the VR experience that I’ve tried, The Solus Project is the first fully-fledged “proper” VR game I’ve played. OK, so are Elite Dangerous and Project Cars, but even if The Solus Project is just another retro-fit VR game- the VR elements seem a lot more integrated that any other twenty-odd hour game at the moment.
I’d recommend The Solus Project to both regular PC gamers and those equipped with either HTC’s Vive or the Oculus Rift. It’s an interesting mystery and a great fresh take on the survival sandbox game genre.