The Red Solstice Demo First Impressions
By Nathaniel Liles
The Red Solstice, brought to us by developer Ironward, is nearing release, and you can go to their site and play a free demo right now, in addition to playing some multiplayer if you pre-ordered. I didn’t pre-order, but I have exactly enough money to try out the free demo, and earlier today, I did just that. I grew up on Diablo, and since the gameplay style hasn’t exactly carried through the ages, transcending all genre and time, it was nice to see a non-fantasy game use this control scheme and overall style for something other than a roguelike. Did The Red Solstice pull it off? Has this style of gameplay aged well? Find out in the next thrilling paragraph of… Nathaniel’s Magical Prologue Playthrough!
So I start up the game, I click the beautiful Prologue button, and we begin our adventure! One short loading screen later, and I’m… Shit, I’m dead. Wait… No, I’m fine. Okay, that was scary. The Prologue starts off with you fighting off the first of many alien adversaries with your bare hands, a fine way to start pretty much anything. After this, we’re sent on a daring and dangerous mission to the other side of the room where we learn basic controls, like how to use our Space Marine Gun and pick up Space Marine Ammo. Fighting our way through boxes – our toughest foe yet – we move into the next room to the east where we encounter a flesh-ripping alien monster who clearly wants to be the best of friends.
He didn’t want to be the best of friends at all. He ate my face. Let’s try this again. Okay fight for my life, shoot the boxes, grab the ammo, walk east. Knowing that this galloping ball of hate is not going to be reasonable, I gun him down and continue on my journey. By default, the camera doesn’t follow you around, but default “n” will turn on auto-follow, so aside from that one unneeded button press, the controls so far are really nice, your character walks at a good controlled pace, and there’s an auto-shoot option that helps those of us who accidentally click right next to the enemy and end up running up to them. It’s embarrassing, and The Red Solstice is preventing it. Good controls, but not perfectly executed, which I’ll talk about later. As you continue through the Prologue, you’re introduced to a few other Space Marines, part of another unit, and your mission is to send out a distress call so someone can come pick you up and away from horrifying space zombies and what appear to be an opposing humanoid faction.
I have some really mixed feelings about this experience. The loading screen that preempts the actual gameplay shows off the graphics up-close, and although they don’t look fantastic, they look damn well enough to work. They do not, however, look anywhere near as good as the trailer for the game, and I had some serious graphical glitches throughout, but keep in mind that this is an Alpha, so things are subject to improvement. My main issue with the look of the game is how few colors are used. Everything I’ve seen so far for the game looks like it takes place in the same area with the same three colors. The enemies, however, are varied and usually creatively designed. The game’s music is fine, nothing extraordinary, but it sets the mood and gets you pumped to play.
The headlining feature of The Red Solstice, however, is its 8-player co-op mode, which I haven’t been able to try quite yet. In all honesty, I really feel like a healthy multiplayer community could make this game an insane success, and I would’ve loved to give this feature a try (hint hint, we’ll probably have a review of the full game soon after its release!)
All I can really say about The Red Solstice after playing the Alpha demo is that it has a few kinks to work out. I doubt that there will be any massive aesthetic overhaul, but if they fix whatever glitch I was experiencing, I wouldn’t have much to complain about. The game plays very well, aside from a few moments where the game was unclear as to why I couldn’t do some specific action, and 8-player co-op would be a blast. Keep an eye out for The Red Solstice, and take a look at this promising title on Ironward’s website or theredsolstice.com, where you can download the demo yourself, read up on the game’s features, and sign up for The Red Solstice Newsletter!
Ironward is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for The Red Solstice that’s running until April 20th. Tune in later this week when we’ll have an interview with Ironward CEO and game designer Hrvoje Horvatek.