The twin-stick shooter can offer you fast-paced, breakneck, precise action, either solo or alongside teammates in co-op, it's popular among gamers and is now a genre being tapped into by the Red Solstice developers, Ironward. Enter Solstice Chronicles M.I.A.; the latest entry in the space marine, alien hunting solstice series.
Solstice Chronicles M.I.A. is not a sequel to their previous title, but an extension to the franchise. Their last title, The Red Solstice is a tactical, squad-based shooter released last year. Taking place on Mars, you were required to fight an onslaught of aliens through a campaign of survival and strategy similar to an RTS, which can be played solo or co-operatively with up to eight players.
During my continued adventures at gamescom earlier in the year, I had to opportunity to try an early build of the game alongside one of the developers. As we talked and played I took grasp to the controls immediately, so anyone familiarly with twin-stick shooters will feel right at home. Credit is also given to the support of two player local co-op.
I hadn’t played the series before and didn't really know what story behind, all I knew was that I was a Space Marine on a Mars colony, fighting aliens. That was more than enough encouragement to get me playing. However, there is actually some depth to the story here.
Planet Earth has become overrun by the STROL, virus like creatures that leave mankind with no choice but to evacuate Earth and colonise Mars. A new society has been established and cure is in the works to take back Earth, but as work is made, the STROL spreads to Mars after evolving into an intelligent lifeform. So now, it's up to you and your comrades to survive and fight back and stop the mutants from taking over.
What sets M.I.A. apart from other shooters so the same genre, is the tactical design behind it all. Variety comes from strategy. Levels aren't randomly generated, but enemy patterns can be. You can influence the flow of the game using your tactical decision abilities, you can push through and take down waves of aliens or be strategic and clear out the hives to reduce or stop incoming spawns. Me being none the wiser, charged through guns blazing and was taken down pretty quickly. It was clear that I was one strategy that didn't work in my favor. Fortunately, in addition of weapons, ammo and loot, you also have a support droid that follows you for back-up, its job is guide you through the environments alerting you of hives and if in need can go out on its own and find you weapons or ammunition. The droid can really help out in more hazardous moments as you could easily be swarmed by waves of enemies or be beaten down by a boss.
Solstice Chronicles M.I.A. is still in its early stages of development, but with the title now Greenlit on Steam, Ironward are in full development and hope release in 2017. As someone who is a fan of other great twin-stick shooters like Dead Nation, Alienation, and Helldivers; I will certainly be keeping my eye out for this one.