When firing up the ole’ computer, I had no idea what to expect when starting Solo.
I knew that there’s a boat, a cute character with a beard, and surreal scenery. Turns out, it’s a bit of a strange puzzler that guides you through your own story of love via the wise words of a ghost, a couple of genie looking dudes and some leeks that have escaped from the supermarket.
The first thing that players notice when starting the game is the wonderfully colourful, cartoony scenery. Solo is a good looking game, with a unique aesthetic.
Each of the playable characters are cute – two adventurous youths or a grizzled old sailor. There’s a mother and child turtle duo swimming around out at sea and some friendly seagulls to take photos of with your point and shoot. The game is inviting, you want to peek around each corner and sit on each strategically placed park bench and take the time to take it all in. That being said, it’s also a bit weird.
Strange ‘cats’ with stripey jumpers follow you around making blob emoji faces after you give them a bit of attention or a banana. The fountain in the corner happens to be a girl, bent over, crying, with water streaming out of her eyes. A pokemon-esque diglett is the guardian of pool ladders. The weirdness is endearing though, adding to the cuteness of the game.
Scenery aside, the gameplay itself is methodical. Solo has a clear path, solve a puzzle and watch as new islands emerge from the sea. The chain of islands grows very quickly as the puzzles are far from difficult.
You start the game by answering a couple of questions about yourself – are you female, male or non-binary; interested in women, men or non-binary. You then set out from home on your grand adventure, sailing a small yacht to the first island in the archipelago. There the blue genies impart some words of wisdom about life and send you off to solve the puzzles – essentially moving boxes around so you can climb to the top of a ledge and activate a lighthouse after which your ghost boyfriend asks you some questions about your relationships. Rinse and repeat for the duration of the game.
Even after playing for a couple of hours, I’m still not sure what I think about this game.
I want to continue to see what the game’s point is, but I’m a little bit bored. The background music is monotonous and had no variation during the couple of hours I spent playing. The puzzles are clever, however the duration between the introduction of new mechanics is too slow. The controls don’t feel intuitive in many ways and the tools in your backpack don’t get explained properly until well into the game. It could just be me, I really enjoy games where you can interact with almost everything and push the game’s limits and Solo is not one of those games. I will keep playing out of curiosity more than anything, however I think I’d feel a greater sense of achievement if I were to play a more challenging puzzler like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
Overall it’s a sweet game, and if you’re after something slow and calming, it’s perfect. If you’re like me and question and challenge everything, it’s definitely not the game for you.
Platforms: PC (Windows 10)
Developer: Team Gotham
Publisher: Team Gotham