When Fort Solis was initially introduced final yr throughout Summer time Video games Fest 2022, many assumed it might be a typical sci-fi horror sport in the identical ilk as Lifeless House, The Callisto Protocol, and Alien: Isolation. Nevertheless, after getting an opportunity to go hands-on with the sport, it’s clear that builders Fallen Leaf and Black Drakkar Video games are after a a lot completely different expertise, one which has the prospect to not solely separate it from its sci-fi horror friends however ship a novel story with some acquainted faces.
Coming into the demo on the gaming conference, I had little or no of an concept of what Fort Solis was actually about. By the point it was over, I used to be left with simply as a lot curiosity. In a really temporary (quarter-hour whole) behind-closed-doors session, it was clear that Fallen Leaf was seeking to showcase extra of the tone of the sport than anything. As an alternative of any actual motion, I used to be as an alternative handled to extra of a showcase of what the sport will look and play like. Regardless of the little quantity of actual gameplay, I got here away impressed by what Fallen Leaf was constructing.
What we find out about Fort Solis now isn’t a lot, nevertheless it appears to comply with most sci-fi thriller tales. You play as Jack Leary (portrayed by Roger Clark), a person tasked with investigating a mining station on Mars that has all of the sudden gone quiet. Arriving within the station, it’s clear that one thing unhealthy occur; papers are strewn about, issues had been clearly left in a rush, and most significantly, there’s nobody in sight.
Gameplay in Fort Solis appears about as barebones as you may get, with most of my time spent slowly exploring the empty area station. There was a short quick-time occasion second, which had me dodging a falling platform as I entered a room. In response to a member of writer Pricey Villagers’ communications workforce, the quick-time occasions in Fort Solis do have some type of penalties. Had I not dodged the platform, for instance, Leary would have developed a limp, nevertheless it’s unsure for the way lengthy.
After exploring a bit extra, the demo abruptly ends as Jack makes his method exterior by way of a mining tunnel, and comes to seek out himself trapped in a shocking storm taking place on Mars’ floor. Whereas there wasn’t a lot to criticize throughout my time with the gameplay, it did transfer considerably gradual, however that appeared extra by design than anything. It’s clear Fallen Leaf needs you to really feel simply as trapped and remoted as Leary is, and it does work, regardless that it would transfer a bit extra slowly than you’d like.
The one companion you will have in your journey is fellow crew member Jessica Appleton (portrayed by Julia Brown), who will function a information and voice of interplay all through. Regardless of the drastic variations, their temporary interactions in my demo jogged my memory of the connection between Delilah and Henry in Campo Santo’s hit journey sport Firewatch, and which may not be abruptly, because it was a sport that Pricey Villagers talked about was an inspiration to Fallen Leaf.
Regardless of not attending to expertise a lot with my time of Fort Solis, it’s clear that issues like ambiance, story, and the way the sport appears to be like are the true focuses right here. When it comes to graphics, they’ve knocked it out of the park, as Fort Solis may be one of many best-looking video games I’ve seen in a while. Not solely does every little thing look beautiful, however the character animations within the sport may additionally be a few of the finest in any sport, a shocking factor coming from an indie studio, however one thing Fallen Leaf clearly needed to nail due to their casting.
Alongside Roger Clark (who starred as Arthur Morgan in Pink Lifeless Redemption 2) and Julia Brown (who makes her online game debut in Fort Solis), the third star of Fort Solis is Troy Baker. Baker briefly appeared within the demo session I had within the type of a video message, however even in that, it was clear that getting these actors’ likenesses down was an enormous focus. Relying closely on the most recent movement seize expertise, Fallen Leaf has achieved a implausible job of showcasing every little thing from the delicate hitches in somebody’s gait after they transfer, the grunts of effort they make when hopping off a platform, or simply their numerous facial expressions after they discuss.
Ambiance is king in Fort Solis, and it’s one other space that Fallen Leaf appears to have gotten good. Alongside video games like Firewatch, Pricey Villagers mentions that motion pictures like 2009’s Moon and 2021’s Advert Astra had been large influences on Fort Solis, and it’s clear when taking part in. In contrast to video games like Lifeless House and even Alien: Isolation, there isn’t a overarching risk or monster ready to scare you. As an alternative, the dread comes from simply how regular every little thing appears.
Enjoying previous horror video games set in area has you conditioned that opening doorways or coming into a brand new room will lastly exhibit some unseen alien creature able to pounce. Fallen Leaf channels that by presenting the trimmings of a typical sci-fi horror sport however delivering one thing a bit extra methodical. The way in which the sport is introduced (in a good, third-person perspective) additionally helps add to the general tense feeling of individuals. Rooms are massive however really feel small due to how near the protagonist you’re, and searching round seems like one massive sweeping digital camera motion, priming you for a scare that isn’t there.
In the long run, it’s unknown precisely if some type of monstrous presence does exist in Fort Solis, however evidently Fallen Leaf are rather more all for exploring the extra mundane elements of life in area, and the simmering dread that comes with it. The sport can nonetheless in all probability use a number of fixes in the way you play to maintain from getting stale, however in simply 15 quick minutes with the sport, I used to be prepared for extra.
It’s clear that Fallen Leaf has a powerful imaginative and prescient of what they need to accomplish with Fort Solis, and based mostly on my quick time with it, it’s one they’ve succeeded closely at.