Solo: Islands of the Heart Review
Solo: Islands of the Heart opens with the explanation that is an introspective journey about relationships and that you should answer the questions based on your life experiences. You begin by choosing your gender and which gender you would like to love in the game. You are then given choices of your character. You are given three different characters to choose from in a female, male and what looks like an old sea captain to choose as your playable character. The game then asks you to name your most beloved one. After you have done all of this you are given a loading screen that details the controls of the game.
Once the game loads you are treated to a short cutscene with some vague thoughts and you pan down to your character sitting on the porch of his house on an island. You then leave the porch and head to your boat to set off on your adventure. The gameplay begins fairly simple as you walk up to a lighthouse and a bubble appears over your head. You then press a button and a flashing light points you to your next objective a totem that asks you a question about love. After answering the question a new island is opened for you to explore. The islands are made up of varying levels of land and you must use crates that are placed around the islands to climb and reach new heights. You gain new items as you go that are useful in solving the puzzles. Items such as a parachute to jump from high ledges and a magic staff to help move blocks to you from other areas. The game has ladders on the sides of the island so if you were to fall in the water you can just swim to a ladder and climb back on. As you advance in the game boxes appear with fans that can be used to push you up to reach higher places. These blocks can be rotated with the push of a button so that you can use the fan to push the block up and allow you to climb farther than earlier in the game.
The game has its good and bad attributes. The art style of the game is aesthetically pleasing and reminds me of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in both its art and nautical theme. The game then loses all comparisons after that. The game is not burdened with a heavy story or gameplay that requires you to complete tasks in a specified amount of time. The questions in the game serve less as a way to move the story forward and more as a way to make the player contemplate their ideas about love and relationships. The islands are populated by animals and a ghost companion that you interact with throughout the game. The game is easy to pick up and play with the block puzzles gradually building in complexity as you move from island to island. This repetitive gameplay, however, becomes monotonous and boring. Sure you can walk around and interact with the various animals on the islands by feeding and petting them but that even becomes boring after a while. The game does have a soothing soundtrack in the background as you play with ocean sounds mixed in.
With all that being said, I found the game to be a disappointment. After seeing the art style and watching the gameplay trailer I really wanted to like this game. The game, however, became increasingly frustrating as its repetitive nature and lack of diversity in the types of puzzles that could have been used in this game. I found the ghost companion annoying very quickly as she questions the answers you give the Totems to their questions. The game suffers from a camera angle that although moveable gets in the way more than are helpful as objects and areas of land will obstruct your view as you try to find the best field of vision to help you stack the blocks and solve the puzzles. Team Gotham has created a game that has a lot of potentials but falls short in the follow-through. With a more developed story and better diversity in the puzzles, I could say that I enjoyed Solo. This game was not for me but if you want just a casual game to fill a few hours this would be the game for you.