Fort Solis Fort Solis PS5 Fort Solis PS5 Review Fort Solis Review

Fort Solis Review (PS5) – Fantastic Narrative Of Isolation Slowed By Impacting Creative Choice Issues

Fort Solis PS5 Review – Video games have been encroaching cinematography quality for many years now. In fact, some titles end up more like experiences than actual games. Fort Solis runs along that line but with some extra exploration and collecting. Combine that with a gorgeous backdrop and talented cast, and you have a recipe for success. While the complete package has pacing issues and some impacting creative choice issues, Fort Solis still offers a solid experience worth shuffling through the slow start.

Fort Solis PS5 Review – Fantastic Narrative of Isolation Slowed By A Couple Creative Choices

Work at Fort Solis is tedious and boring at best-at least in the maintenance portions of the interstellar fort. You work as a maintenance engineer on a site dedicated to terraforming a new place for humanity to live. A ton of important work takes place on-site, but you rarely see it, leaving you to a more menial role.

As it always goes, you are one day away from your long-awaited vacation off-world when an emergency lockdown takes effect across the entire fort. To boot, a dust storm looms large on the horizon, further isolating the already-alienated circumstances.

Without going into spoiler-level detail, the story delivers itself nicely, bringing welcome and believable perspective on what leads up to the game’s finale. The antagonist does a good job of delivering the truth, albeit a warped one, of what happened. Equally so, there’s a bit of a divide between the desperation that he shows in logs and the heinous nature he shows in person.

Not a great deal of time passes between the logs and the current situation, so the shift feels a bit too Hollywood. I don’t think this comes down to the writing but rather the voice work. It’s good in a cinematic sense, but it leans too much into the sinister and disregards much of the desperation that leads to the finale. Again, it works well enough and still elicits the kind of emotional responses needed to make the ending work as well as it does. Still, his voice work pushes too much toward the simplistic to give the game the full justice it deserves.

Beautiful Isolation

From the first beat, the game’s presentation flexes its visual and audible muscles. Character models and the settings all share high fidelity visuals and finite details, with each location delivering a unique personality based on whomever once lived in that space. You may not know the former inhabitants well, but you get a good idea about them just by existing in their living spaces.

Set pieces are generally small but vivid and filled with detail. Each general area has its own look and feel, differentiating them well. However, the different pathways to get to these unique areas look quite similar to each other. While on the surface of Mars, the blowing dust and dirt ground look the same until you approach a building, maintenance access tunnels all look the same, and most hallways and staircases resemble each other.

Realistically, this makes sense. Common areas will look the same to each other. Equally so, it makes getting around in a game a bit more challenging. Another contributor to this issue is the in-game map; you use a monitor on your wrist to cycle through audio and video logs as well as pull up your map.

Large Space, Small Map

When you pull up the map, the camera comes up above your shoulder and looks down at your wrist like with a watch. There’s no way to zoom in any closer to the screen on your wrist than that. You can zoom in with the device itself, but that still proves challenging to read. The design choice and push for realism makes sense, but it doesn’t make for an accessible or efficient game experience.

Fort Solis channels several titles for its core gameplay, those being anything from Telltale Games, The Medium, Bring Me The Moon, etc. The entire game sees you walking from place to place, searching the corridors, offices, and quarters for hints of what triggered the site-wide lockdown. Occasionally, a Quick-Time Event button prompt pops up, but those only happen when a major story event takes place.

Unlike many games like it, Fort Solis allows you more freedom to explore the available map, including walking on the surface to different buildings. The game places levels of realism to the gameplay by keeping the camera on you while you unseal air locks, repressurize, and enter facilities.

If you get lost, you see these animations repeatedly. During my time with Fort Solis, I got lost often. In hindsight, I appreciate that the game presented itself this way strictly for the sake of realism. It forced me to truly pay attention to the space around me and care about what needed doing.

A Wonderful Cast

At the same time, the slow pace of the game on top of limited direction and only a handful of things to discover all make for a bland gameplay experience for the first couple hours as you progress through the initial roadblocks and narrative beats. The entire game only took me about five hours to finish, including the times I got lost. A couple of hours stands as a large chunk of the entire game experience.

Equally so, one major saving grace to the initial tedium is the dialogue and banter between the two main characters, Jennifer Appleton (Julia Brown) and Jack Leary (Roger Clark). All of their chatter comes via remote communication, which brings a human element to the isolation. Further still, this excellent back-and-forth adds to their individual circumstances as well as subdues some of the initial panic.

It’s abundantly clear that something bad is happening, but Jennifer and Jack curb the looming tension beautifully, keeping you wondering when the inevitable ball will finally drop. This organic buildup brings so much to the final product as-is, but it would all be that much more potent if the game world did not allow you to wander so far. Some may not like the linear games, but some games just work more effectively that way. Fort Solis would have been one of those.

Still, once you get past the first bits of the game, the pace starts to gradually build. You still walk everywhere, which takes time, but the building tensions soon make those long hallways more anticipative silence than empty tedium.

A Wonderful Slow Burn That Could Use More Kindling

Fort Solis is far from a perfect game, channeling a few too many elements of realism at the cost of gameplay. Slow movement combined with relatively large maps to explore and a map system that requires a telescope to use make getting around cumbersome to say the least. Thankfully, much of the game is straightforward enough to see you get where you need. To boot, the two main characters do a fantastic job of keeping you invested in the circumstances surrounding Fort Solis. That goes for the slow story bits as well.

The setting is absolutely gorgeous as well, immersing you in a vivid and believable space once inhabited by people. Finally, the ending more than justifies the means to get there. Still, not everyone will tolerate the slow start the game requires, even if the game only takes about five hours. Something is definitely wrong in Fort Solis, but there’s also something equally worth experiencing in that isolated outpost.

Review code kindly provided by publisher



The Final Word

While far from perfect, Fort Solis still delivers an intriguing story with just a couple of well-delivered characters to really sell the final product. While they make sense, some creative decisions negatively impact the game as a whole. Still, sci-fi fans will have a great time with Fort Solis, even if it takes a bit to get going.