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The Red Solstice Will Satiate Your Need For Alien Slaughter

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Back in the halcyon days of 2011, I found myself playing a Starcraft II mod that pit me and some friends up against a bunch of renamed, recolored or enlarged zerg in an infestation map with objectives and a branching storyline. It was fun because you played “hero” units that stood against the tide of squishy sacks of XP, and upgraded your abilities and equipment to take on bosses.2015-07-06_00013

The Red Solstice is a much more polished version of that, and is so far very addicting.

Joining the ranks of games like Alien Breed and…um…Alien Breed, The Red Solstice is an interesting and engaging entry into a genre that, frankly, gets about as much love as a hobbit-sized beta male in a frat house. Engaging top down shooters are rare these days, and no, I will not count Hatred, because it was an exercise in trolly performance art on top of being fuck-awful.2015-07-06_00008

While the writing and dialogue in the single player campaign are nothing to write home about, the multiplayer is interesting, varied, and engaging. That’s a cool thing to say, because most of my experience in the pre-release realm was with bots, and bots usually make me want to put my head through the wall. The bot AI is better than serviceable, saving my ass fairly frequently, and that makes even playing with a low active population (for those of us with weird work schedules) enjoyable.

As for playing with other people, there is a very friendly Teamspeak community around the game, and the matchmaking seems as solid as can be, except for a minor hiccup while I was downloading an update to Evolve (which was clearly a bandwidth issue on my end). The multiplayer campaign itself is randomized, so that objectives appear as necessary as time goes on. This generates a different experience every time, and allows teams to work together to adapt to a changing situation on the ground. In short, it’s fucking cool.2015-07-06_00012

The graphics are average, but you aren’t expecting The Witcher: Wild Hunt with this genre. The important thing is if the mechanics work, and they do. Inventory management is intuitive, skills and abilities are flexible and varied, and stats (while not necessarily immediately easy to understand) are meaningful. Nothing feels too underutilized, especially when you creep towards higher difficulties.

A recommendation there though: normal is a bit too easy. I made it through three missions without taking much damage at all. I upped it two difficulty tiers and got to missions that made me want to cry tears of pain. That’s how these games should play, and the team behind The Red Solstice seem to not only understand that, but they’ve provided the full spectrum of options.2015-07-06_00004

My favorite feature thus far has been tactical mode, which slows things down to a crawl and allows you to position your squad or character in real time. This is absolutely key on higher difficulties, unless you want to be brutally mauled to death by the mutated hordes of Mars.2015-07-06_00015

I’m not a fan of numerical ratings, but I will definitely recommend this one to anyone who likes the top down squad shooter genre. Especially if you liked games like Alien Breed or that Starcraft II mod I mentioned. It’s a solid entry into a field that could use more entries in general, and one I’ll probably end up convincing a few friends to buy for some co-op fun.

About Whiskey Ginger

Whiskey Ginger is a scientist by day and comedy writer by night. Other than his passions for the nerdier things in life, he also writes for comedy sites dedicated to fraternity and postgrad humor. His parents just wish he'd write less dick jokes.

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