Solar Ash may be the best indie bet on the year. If not the very best, it's easily within the top five. Developed by Heart Machine, who previously made the critically acclaimed Hyper Light Drifter, and published by the great Annapurna Interactive, Solar Ash is really a 3D action-adventure platformer that offers a hard to place down breath of fresh air from start to finish.
Although it borrows ideas in the Pathless, Shadow from the Colossus, Ratchet and Clank, and Grow Home, Solar Ash is uniquely its very own extraordinary experience. With dynamic worlds, rewarded curiosity, fluid combat, and a meaningful message, Solar Ash delivers a tight, nonstop joyride of fun.
The Worlds: Diversity & Immersion
Solar Ash begins with the game’s protagonist, Rei, leaping into a black hole in order to save her planet. Here, she encounters the broken remains of devoured cultures that when were, each offering different architecture, moods, and mechanics. Instead of being one massive open world, Solar Ash splits its stages up into bite-sized levels, which fits perfectly. And though the amount are separate, the lack of loading screens mixed with the memorable silhouettes of each stage filling the horizon makes the entirety from the Ultravoid feel seamlessly connected.
There are six worlds as a whole with every one being more eccentric compared to last. In a single word you’ll be grappling from skyscraper to skyscraper, and in another, you’ll be grinding on a mushroom rail upside-down on the lava globe. Without fail, my favorite level would always change to the most recent world I’d encountered, which talks to each world’s individuality and fun factor.
The sky colour of each stage shifts from light purple, vivid green, and burnt orange while your home planet grows bigger on the horizon, drawing closer to the Ultravoid. Everything within these worlds activly works to further immerse you into Solar Ash.
The Worlds: Mechanics & Performance
Not only are these worlds beautiful, they are also well constructed. It as being a platformer, the amount have to be fun to navigate, and they are. Each world presents a brand new mechanic to keep things fresh, but familiar. For instance, upon entering Eternal Gardens, you’ll should try to learn and master the colored mushroom mechanic, or on Mirrorsea, you’ll must find an ideal timing for skating around the toxic green lakes. Every beautiful world has new things to showcase.
It is also worth noting, the nearly two-month delay Solar Ash had was worth it. You will find practically no bugs and everything within the game ran smooth as silk. (Here’s to wishing more developers harder using their games). The polish, level of detail, and overall cohesiveness within each world work together to truly make Solar Ash an ocular delight.
The Flow: General & Abilities
Enough about what makes Solar Ash fun to check out and become in, let’s get to what makes Solar Ash fun to play. Getting around the Ultravoid is really a joy because of Rei’s general flow. You can simply hold down a control button and skate on every surface including blue, pillow-like clouds. Black ooze replaces a climb-anything stamina meter, keeping players always headed in the right direction. Heart Machine nailed the sensation of gliding through the worlds, allowing players to seem like a real Voidrunner.
One from the cons of Solar Ash may be the insufficient abilities. From the start of the game, you have access to every ability Rei will ever get. Similarly, it is impressive that, even though it is really a relatively short game taking about 8 hours to complete, Solar Ash remains fun and non-repetitive without presenting new abilities throughout it. On the other, an air dash or glide ability would be a well-earned unlockable for beating someone else in charge, collecting all of the journals, or completing a side quest that will make playing Rei that rather more fun.
The Flow: Side Quests & Curiosity
And on the subject of side quests, along side it quests in Solar Ash fall flat. Each one inevitably comes down to a wild goose chase and concludes with no reward. Even though a side quest that just provides an additional story to the world is definitely an exciting idea, the stories told were difficult to follow and weren’t too impactful. Thankfully, the side quests are inconsequential and could be completely sidestepped.
One from the joys of Solar Ash is the constant encouragement you receive while exploring the worlds. Besides collecting all of the caches within the worlds that unlock various suits, curiously rounding a cliff ledge to locate a plasma deposit is really a reward in and of itself. With each world being so concise, navigating and discovering things are a blast.
The Flow: Boss Battles & Health
A highlight of Solar Ash may be the boss battles. To begin with, they often occupy happens in some manner before the battle, further making the worlds feel alive. Because the battles begin, the stage that you’ve been traversing to cleanse the land and awaken in charge gets to be the boss arena. Each boss battle does many things right: there aren't any tedious moments, they are pretty short, they provide just enough diversity to feel new, plus they test your mettle, causing you to feel powerful and hungry for the next one.
Another reason why Solar Ash is fun to play is how it handles health. It really works as shields that constantly need to be repaired because, after a boss battle, Echo will destroy one of your shields. Getting hit by enemies will break your shields, however they could be repaired through the blue boxes throughout the map.
There are as much as five health slots, so collecting plasma throughout your adventure to purchase more shield slots will benefit you. This shield system works to remind players how fragile Rei is while incentivizing plasma collection and curiosity.
As discussed earlier, Solar Ash is really a relatively short game, it taking about eight hours to finish everything. Short games don’t automatically mean bad games, it’s just something to think about when looking to purchase it. Plus, there is little change to a massive array game content.
A common issue with collectibles in video games is by time you’ve collected everything to unlock the ultimate upgrade, you’ve completed the game and have no use for it. While falling prey to this very problem, Solar Ash could benefit greatly with time trials throughout the worlds, a secret bonus stage for collecting everything, or some other type of end game content.
Aside from that, the conclusion of Solar Ash is impressive, if a tad predictable. There's two options to make at the end. Are all satisfying in its own right and says something meaningful. Without spoiling too much, themes of acceptance, ignorance, and rebuilding are used successfully.
Solar Ash is a contemplative experience, visual feast, and faced-paced thrill ride expertly ended into one exhilarating adventure. Certainly, this game is among the best indie games of 2022, otherwise the best. Though it has a few nit-picky misses in the side quests, the end-game content, and the insufficient abilities, Solar Ash cosmically shines in every other category making it the brand new defacto standard for 3D indie games.