The Red Solstice is a tactical survival squad based shooter developed by Ironward and released on Steam on July 10, 2015. The game feels like it’s the love child of Alien 2 and Warcraft 3; or other DOTA2 style games.
The single player campaign has you controlling Tyler Hunt and his squad who have been sent to investigate a communications failure in the Tharsis colony on Mars. Throughout the campaign you will switch to other squads all of which have a different loadout to that of Tyler’s. This portion of the game consists of ten chapters which introduces you to the various classes and builds which you can recreate in the multiplayer section of the title.
The narrative of the game is presented to you in a number of ways, you have major events which are in a stylised comic fashion with a narrator describing the events of the story. During gameplay, in a fashion which is very reminiscent of Warcraft 3, the camera will pan across to your team where dialogue will be spoken with subtitles in the centre of the screen.
The gameplay is what you would expect from this genre of game, you point and click which will move your units across the map. You’re able to toggle an auto aim command which will force your units to open fire on enemies in sight or you can hold shift which will bring up an aim reticle – I have found this mode of firing more resourceful when moving online and you’ve equipped yourself with a minigun.
What sets this game apart from other DOTA style games is a unique feature which allows you to slow the speed of the game down by 90% and issue commands to your units independently allowing you to make more strategic decisions while playing.
The game presents this mode to you during the first chapter, which is basically the tutorial for the game. While in this mode, you can spread out your units so they can cover a wider ranger but they can also provide you with cover so during my playthrough I would have them covering the doors while I was commanding my unit to search the building for supplies.
All of your characters are fully customisable with different classes, 45 unique skills to equip and over 80 armor components to find throughout the campaign all of which buff your characters stats and provide abilities.
While you’re issue commands to your main unit, you can use all of his equipped skills when needed but to able to issue your squad to use theirs, you have to go into tactical mode.
Throughout my campaign playthrough, I found myself to not really enjoy the experience. While it’s purpose was to ease you into the meat of the game which is the multiplayer campaign, I really had to drag myself through it.
I’ve found everyone coming together really well, the game looks great, the customisation is vast and has weight behind it and the musical score behind the game is amazing but the way the game presents enemies to you became tedious after you realise the patterns they’re following!
With the exception of a few enemies, everything is coming at your in a straight line; it’s as if the zombies are British with out love for queuing. If you have a look through the screenshots of this title, everything is dying in a conga line. I’m unsure if this is because of the way I’ve been playing, as I’ll move my units slowly towards the objective and for the most part, I will move them as a team – is this why I’m facing this ‘issue’?
Why this was something I had been facing throughout the singleplayer portion of the game, I didn’t seem to face this issue as much during the multiplayer which could be because there are 8 players online all trying to complete objectives meaning enemies are spawning more sporadically.
Through researching The Red Solstice, you can see that there is a tight knit community of dedicated players online and players new to the franchise have had issues finding none elitist teams. When I had attempted to get online, I was only able to find one game and after chatting to the host for a good while he pulled in some other players we played through multiple campaigns lasting around 30 – 45 minutes each.
I believe myself to have been lucky enough to find a section of the community who were kind and taught me the ropes.
The multiplayer plays more or less like the single player campaign with the exception of there being no tactical mode, but looking through the options for the game lobby you can see that there is a way to enable this – through talking to the host of my multiplayer session. You can enable this online, but only if you’re hosting a session with yourself and bots. Enabling you to play through the story content alone.
The narrative of the multiplayer sessions are a continuation of what’s been presented in the main campaign of the game, however there are randomly generated bonus objectives giving the feeling that each game you play is different to the last. All experience gained throughout these sessions are added to the mastery of your character, enabling you to purchase different weapons and classes for you to play. Meaning that you’re not just stuck as an assault unit with the base weapons, you can switch up your play style by changing to between the 8 character classes.
The Red Solstice is a fun little title, but you’re going to find that the real substance and depth of the game comes in its online section, if you can find a live game when you’re looking to actually play. I’d suggest purchasing this title during a sale, talking your friends into buying it too and enjoying the title together online.