Having been with my wife now for 6 years, 2 of which we’ve been married, the question of love is one a never really ask anymore. This powerful emotion is one that perhaps we, or may just I take for granted. Moving through our every day lives just assuming that our partner possesses the same emotions we share for them. Or maybe you’re still looking for love? No matter what your relationship status may be, Solo will take you on an emotional voyage across the seas, prompting the reflection of personal life experiences and delivering a narrative that feel tailored to you.
Before you set out on your voyage you’ll need to choose your gender, the gender you wish to love and the appearance you wish to be portrayed as while on your adventure. Once you’ve chosen all these options your given one final piece of advice, answer all questions as truthfully as possible. Upon reading this message I challenge just how legitimate the statement was, but turns out that Solo tailors it’s dialogue and gameplay around your choices, so being completely open-hearted in your responses, no matter what memories they may bring up will reward you with an emotional insight come the end of the game.
I don’t want to delve into any spoilers here as it was the not knowing when playing Solo that made some of the questions and interactions all that more compelling. All I will say is that Solo is a game based on love, whether that be a current love, a previous love or a love you haven’t even met yet.
Without talking about story or narrative I can talk about the gameplay. At its heart Solo is a puzzle game and a pretty good one at that. The real strength of the puzzles lay within their simplicity. As you move through the islands you’ll interact with lighthouses that’ll unlock a nearby totem. Interacting with these totums will prompt a theosophical question, answering this question will open up new areas of the islands to explore. It’s the journey to these totums and lighthouses that provide the challenge, and towards the end of Solo, they can offer quite the challenge.
All puzzles in the game are based around the manipulation of boxes. Granted, there are different types of boxes and as you venture to new islands you’ll acquire new boxes, but they are still boxes. As previously mentioned it’s this simplicity around the puzzles that makes them so good. I always knew there was a logical answer, I just had to figure it out. By not using any complex shapes or over-the-top mechanics Solo is able to deliver these puzzle with almost no tutorial, making their integration in the game feel as organic as the love-centred narrative.
Although the integration of the puzzles feels at home in Solo and their steeped up challenge as the story goes on maybe acts as a hidden narrative, they do have one rather annoying flaw. Towards the end of the game I would often struggle to get a box to go where I needed it to. This would often result in me trying just about every camera angle available to finally get a box to connect. There’s no denying this does lead to frustration, especially when you had figured out the puzzle 5 minute beforehand.
As with so many puzzle games nowaday Solo offers both main-line puzzles and optional puzzle. Although most of the optional puzzles are very similar to the main puzzles with their use of the different boxes, there was one set that really stood out. Your little adventurer has decided to bring a guitar along for the journey and scattered throughout the islands in different sheet music. This works in a pretty similar manner to the ocarina in Zelda, requiring different direction input to create a melody. Although these puzzles are very simple in relation to their box counterparts and really don’t offer much in term of progression, they still charming to undertake and feel rewarding when you complete a simple melody.
One look at Solo and you can see just how adorable the game; cute creatures urge for your attention, environments are bursting with colour and you can even indulge in a cheeky little selfie. The whimsical visuals and the mellow acoustic soundtrack that plays along with you all help wrap you up in the game love-centric focus, all of which help turn the emotional dial up to 10 for the game more impactful moments.
Solo takes all the emotion we expect from a narrative adventure and combines it with a thoughtful puzzle game. Some of the later puzzles can lead to some frustration, but who ever said love was easy. Setting sail into the islands of Solo will take you through an emotional voyage of both past and present love that’s personal to you. It’s the games attachment to your heartstring that not only makes it stand out, but also provide an experience you’ll think about for a long time after the end credits roll.