Fighting mutants on an alien planet for the sake of humanity? Sign me up, please! As a recent convert to the joys of DOOM, being able to indiscriminately slay scores of mutant monsters sounds like a good idea to me. Why shouldn’t I fight for survival surrounded by creatures and be terrified for every dark corner my flashlight comes across? Just another day at the office for this virtual space marine. Let’s just hope there isn’t any paperwork involved once I escape Mars. Now that would be scary.
Solstice Chronicles: MIA doesn’t pull any punches. While it’s a top-down shooter and not of the first-person variety, you’ll still get tossed directly in the line of fire with mutants overrunning the colony you’ve been charged with defending. Left behind enemy lines, I had the choice between a few classes from the quick moving Assault marine to heavy hitters like the Demolition or Terminator. Not being the most skilled at tactical shooters myself, I decided to stick with the Assault class.
Being light on my feet and able to change strategies when necessary seemed like a necessity in this environment. Armed with limited weaponry, I ventured forth into the slimy depths of the abandoned colony to find a way back home. Oh, and kill mutants. Lots and lots of mutants.
After meeting my sassy, yet barely-helpful insurgent drone, I finally started to get a rough idea of what the heck was going on with the story. Turns out, something called the STROL virus had overrun Earth, forcing mankind to colonize Mars. It’s always Mars, isn’t it? Anyway, a society was established by powerful corporations, but the planet itself was hardly a welcoming environment. Violent storms threaten to tear everything apart and insurgents are fighting the corporations for control of the Red Planet.
Between dealing with a smart talking drone and shooting mutants, I found Solstice to be oddly engaging and even beautiful at times. The environments were highly detailed and gave me hints at what had happened to the colonists. Mutant eggs were laid everywhere glowing a sickly green and hatched in a spray of disgusting goo to attack me when I drew too close. Dank sewer systems had humanoid figures dashing towards me when the beam of my flashlight swept over them. Moments like these felt intense and left me feeling desperate to escape Mars and return to a form of civilization.
The only thing I didn’t care much for was the perspective, which is top-down style. Yes, I realize this is a top-down shooter (which I eventually got a handle on), but this view isn’t optimal for precise shooting. Seeing my character from the top threw off my aim while blasting at mutants, wasting a third of my ammo before any shots landed. More often than not I’d simply do away with shooting all together and leap in with a melee weapon since slashing at my enemies meant I couldn’t miss.
Other than that, Solstice Chronicles: MIA is a decent experience that should make top-down shooter fans happy. With its good looks and variety of available space marines to pick from, it definitely scratches that certain itch (mainly shooting mutants in the face with a shotgun) and even ended up making me laugh at times with how sassy my drone could be. The atmosphere of the mutants rushing around did feel like other titles I’ve played in the past, but I guess that’s to be expected when you’ve got a Mars colony being overrun by scary monsters. Isn’t that always the case?