Friday, April 29, 2016


It would seem that Solarix is the 20th Unreal Engine 3 game I have played. And for once -- maybe even for the first time -- I got to play an Unreal Engine game that was not ported to PC from a console version. Unfortunately it was made by a small Turkish-based developer called Pulsetense Games. The lack of resources shows and I would have refunded it within minutes if I had not bought the Steam key from Humble. (I think getting a refund from a third party provider is bit more complicated than from Valve.)

Let this be the last time I buy a game without doing proper research first. It was only 5 euros that I paid for it but that money could have been spent on a better game. I suppose its stealth genre and sci-fi setting are what made me get it in the first place, and 73% of Steam user reviews being positive probably helped, too. The game's description sure does oversell it, though. Many of the features are exaggerated or even blatant lies.


The first sign of an imminent questionable experience was when I noticed that game's process being called Unreal Development Kit. (What kind of amateur production is this?) Then the game's multiple minor issues started making their appearances. Those include a heavily lacking options menu and terrible negative mouse acceleration that is noticeable in the main menu already. So much for the luxury of being developed for PC, I guess.

Once again I had to do a bunch of .ini edits and enabling stuff from the Nvidia control panel. At least it was possible to actually get rid of the mouse acceleration, unlike in the Dead Space games. A volume slider for voiced lines would have been great, too, for none of the three sliders seemed to affect the slightly too quiet audio logs in the game.

Movement -- and everything else, really -- felt clumsy and awkward. The protagonist supposedly wears some type of engineering suit like Isaac in Dead Space but that does not explain things like popping on top a crate when you stand up from crouch next to it. Or getting stuck on flat terrain. Stuff like that would have been ironed out from any AAA production.

Unsurprisingly (at this point) this game, too, uses a checkpoint save system. It did not end up being too irritating this time, though, as the times I had to reload, a checkpoint had been very close by. And the checkpoints are always there when you walk over the trigger and not just one-time things like in many other games.

Some people on the Steam forums have had a corrupted save ruin their playthrough. Luckily I did not meet any such major issues. I did have some fairly severe frame rate trouble on the map you start on the Remora, though. And it was everywhere on the level, and only in that particular one. The map is pretty impressive in the time it probably took to model all of that space station, however.

I completed Solarix successfully after 7 hours. Which means that it is a pretty short game considering how long stealth games usually take me to beat. I suppose the short duration is good this time because the biggest offender in this title is the lack of game mechanics. A 20-hour game would have been incredibly tedious with only a shocker, pistol, and shotgun as my weapons.

A very poor man's SS2

The game's three entities that talk to you from the start -- Betty, AMI, and the EYE -- give out an obvious System Shock influence. That is confirmed at the latest on the Megalodon, where a short clip from System Shock 2 (the medical bay, I believe) is playing on a computer screen. Too bad none of SS2's many features made into this one.

I was quite surprised to be able to carry bodies around, though. Not that you really need to do it as I discovered later. The advertised "Advanced Stealth A.I" is too dumb to find you and there seemed to be no global alarm state when a corpse was found. You would also think that someone firing their assault rifle would alert the whole place, or at least the other guard 100 feet away. Not in this game.

Avoiding detection by melee enemies will serve one well, however, as then one will not have to witness the horrid sight that is the melee attack animation that consists of twisting upper body and flailing arms. I was reminded of that Parasite alpha trailer I saw in 2011. (Nothing ever came of that game, by the way.)

I would also like to point out how the shocker seemed to work rather inconsistently. And the pistol needed two headshots to take out the very first enemies, even though its inventory tip says to aim for the head for an instant kill. You better be quick with the double tap, too, as the guards armed with guns will turn around immediately after being hit to shoot at you. That is pretty unimmersive if you ask me.

Solarix is like an extended school project set out to recreate System Shock 2 but falling way short of its goal. And then asking 20 USD for it.

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