What do you get when you take space, sometimes difficult puzzles, heaps of Levels and a low price? You’d get something close to Solar Flux, out now for Nintendo Switch. A successful puzzle game already out for mobile platforms, Solar Flux has you take on the task of stabilizing suns across the galaxy to stop them from dying out, or exploding.
Played entirely on a 2D plane, you collect pieces of solar power to shoot them at the sun to restore it to full health, guiding your ship as it traverses around asteroids and other objects. The Levels start off simply with basic point a to point b objective, but soon the challenge ramps up. You’ll need to sling your ship around planet’s gravity wells, ride solar flares and carefully maneuver your trajectory all while conserving precious radiation shields and fuel.
There are many ways for your journey to fail, from crashing into an asteroid or the sun, running out of fuel, running out of shields or just running out of time. This can make for some difficult Levels where you’ll have to try again and again to get it just right, so for those looking for a lazy game to play in the shopping line perhaps look elsewhere. Solar Flux requires concentration, and a willingness to play a level over and over again, refining your timing with each attempt.
You’re rewarded for playing efficiently, and in some cases Levels demand an economy of resources that will keep you on your toes. For example, a sun’s energy level may not remain stay put, but instead increase or decrease as time goes on, acting as both a time limit and requiring you to gather more solar power if you’re slow.
There are a good number of Levels to keep you occupied but simply getting to them is a reward in and of itself, given how quickly the difficulty ramps up after some tutorial Levels. And that’s made slightly more difficult by not being able to use the joy con controller controls in handheld, portable or tabletop mode. Instead you must use the touch screen, which while isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself seems like a strange limitation. I found the most comfortable method of playing Solar Flux was by taking off the joy con completely and using the Switch like a small tablet device.
What’s weird though, is that you can use controllers while docked, so the technical capability exists for using controllers, but they’re just disabled, which seems like a missed opportunity. Maybe I missed a setting screen, but by default the joy cons appear useless, even to bring up something like the pause screen, instead being relegated to an obscure three finger tap.
If you’re looking for game to fill some time in between matches of Splatoon, or in quick bursts on the train, Solar Flux will provide some stunning sci-fi worlds for you to attempt some creative and challenging puzzles. But if you’re more after some easy wins, then perhaps it’s not for you. Solar Flux is a game that rewards patience and a zen about the incredible number of times that you will fail before finally breaking through.
Especially at its price, Solar Flux is definitely worth checking out, though perhaps mainly for a certain personality who loves long problem solving rather than the constant dopamine rushes of other, easier games.
Released: December 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Firebrand Games
Publisher: Firebrand Games</p