Everyone has heard of Kickstarter by now, and more than likely it’s because of something odd like a $49,000 potato salad. But every now and then a real gem pops up, such as Solarix, developed by the gentlemen over at PulseTense.
Solarix is described as “..a first-person psychological survival-horror game set in a beautifully dilapidated science fiction setting“, and it’s easy to see why. Just a quick glance at the Kickstarter page shows deliciously disturbing images reminiscent of the Dead Space series. But dive deeper into the released content, and the differences become apparent.
The horror market is a tough one to tap, though. What was once a masterful use of music, lighting, and other techniques that caused you to sleep with the lights on, gradually faded way to jump scares and hideous monsters that heroes would fire round after round of bullets into. But Solarix wants to take you back to the days where you never knew what was around the corner, and where you spent the adventure in a state of fear, rather than a momentary scare from something jumping out at you. Solarix wants you in a constant state of unease.
While we don’t have access to the game ourselves, and are relying on the videos and screenshots, it’s still apparent that Solarix shows a great deal of promise. Unlike Dead Space, the game isn’t focused solely on combat, but stealth and evasion. Think classic Thief, lurking in the darkness and disabling light sources to create shadows. An in-game light meter shows how visible you are, where the lighter it is, the more enemies can see you. Like Watch Dogs, you’ll also have the ability to hack terminals and doors, and that’ll be key to getting through a few levels, just as long as the enemies don’t spot you first. It’s up to you and your wits to find a way out of each level, similar to Outlast. The story is also set to be about 6-8 hours long, which seems about average for a modern FPS game.
The story is centered around a genetic experiment gone wrong, and you as the survivor who has hidden away from the infected crew. There’s talk of a distant voice for company, which I’m assuming is the voice that assures you it ‘is not a robot’. Alien-like beings can be seen in one of the videos, though it’s unclear if they’re enemies or just environment creatures. Most of the enemies seem to be members of the ‘clean-up crew’, seemingly normal humans that are coming to destroy evidence; and the mutants, who look to be impervious to pain, making combat tough when they don’t respond to injuries.
PulseTense claims that enemies grow more aware of you as the level progresses, forcing you to adapt your tactics and think on your feet more often than not. The game uses Unreal Technology, and from the clips of combat and movement they’ve shown, it looks fairly fluid.
The levels featured so far are pretty gorgeous for being in a pre-alpha state. Emphasis on lights and shadows, as well as the murky mist floating through the corridors, is enough to make you move slowly through the game. Couple in the discordant melodies and sudden music cues, and my spine is already tingling.
The use of a lullaby sung by a woman in a creepy voice seems almost overused after how Dead Space shoved their version of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” down our throats, but “Rock-a-Bye Baby” takes on a whole new level of creepy when the woman sounds so fiendishly delighted that the baby will rock. I don’t think I’ll be able to hear someone singing the lullaby the same way again.
The voice-acting still needs a bit of work, but that is part of the Kickstarter goal. While the game has a great deal of structure, the developers are looking to gain funding to help with localization, revamping the animations, enhancing sounds for the maximum ‘horror’ experience, and getting some professional voice acting to avoid the ears-bleeding sensation that many of us have experienced with low-budget shows or games. Solarix has been in development for about three years now and has already been approved by Steam, with a stretch goal to bring the game to Xbox consoles. It’ll be distributed under Kiss LTD, which helped with the Greenlight process. So far it looks promising, but time will tell. I can safely say I’m excited to not sleep for a couple of weeks again.
If you want more information, be sure to check out the following links:
- PulseTense’s Official Website
- Solarix Official Website
- The Kickstarter page for Solarix (As of now, it is at £643/£10,000, or roughly $875/$13620)
- Solarix on Steam
- The official Twitter feed for Solarix
- Solarix on FaceBook
Kayla Swenson is an aspiring author and former DJ from Seattle, WA that procrastinates far too much with video games to get a book out. When she’s not gaming until carpal tunnel sets in, she’s working on dreams of being a voice actor as well as a published writer. Fond of RPGs, she will happily disappear into the void to tackle whatever bad voice acting awaits. Contact her at the email above, or on all major systems/networks as Beltravi.