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The Solus Project: Subnautica Lite

The Solus Project

So…You crash land on an alien planet, have no idea where you are and no way to get off the planet. What do you do? How about screwing around with alien technology and fighting smoke monsters.


So what is The Solus Project? The Steam page bills this as a single player exploration adventure with "survival elements" and technically that's correct. The game is more akin to a walking sim where you are discovering new locations and doing some Lite puzzles with some generic survival elements to keep you busy on the journey. There is a story, but its mostly told through the tired method of reading diary entries and wall epitaphs…


I know it sounds like I don't like this game, but I am giving it a recommendation with the caveat that I'm recommending the VR version and NOT the pancake one. See I played this game last year in Pancake mode and really didn't like it. For a survival game it's kinda boring. The survival mechanics are very surface level. So I quit it. Then last week I decided to give it another chance in VR. There's just something about actually being inside of a game instead of watching through a window that just elevates a game out of mediocrity. I had this same thing happen to me with Doom 3.

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First the good:

Great music. Love the soundtrack. The cave exploration themes are great and the "Tornado warning theme" is next level scary. As soon as you hear it, you know you got to book it to the next cave.

Talking about the tornados, they are a sight to see in VR. Watching a tornado coming straight for you is just such an amazing and scary sight. The visuals aren't bad for a 4 year old game made by an indie developer. The caves are fun to explore, lighting is creepy and atmospheric and the level design was well done as I hardly got lost or didn't know what to do.


The bad:

Well lets touch on the obvious. The survival mechanics suck. They basically boil down to get cold, go into a cave. Get hungry or thirsty, go into a cave. They were overly simplistic and really didn't add to the gameplay. There is a setting to turn them off. I didn't because I wanted to play the way the Dev intended, but I didn't get much out of it.

There is a simplistic leveling up system where you level up your stats by finding items on a scavenger hunt. I'm not a big fan of item hunting in games as it just feels like padding to me.

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The story. Even though it was told in a minimalist way using written entries you read I was still enjoying it, trying to figure out the big mystery until the end happened. After going through hell trying to figure out what's going on you get one of those "subversive" twist endings that answers nothing and expects you to just be satisfied with the little they give you. Boo.


Playing this game I was reminded of Subnautica mostly as they have the same premise. What makes them different is Subnautica feels alot deeper from a gameplay perspective. I think unfortunately alot of things that the Solus Project does, Subnautica does better. The reason I did end up enjoying this game is for the journey itself which lasts between 15-20 hours. Exploring caves and lost alien technology was interesting enough to keep me going. Your mileage may very with this tho.


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