In the developer’s words, Solo is a game about love. It's also a game about cute animals, platforming and puzzle solving. Developed by Team Gotham, Solo forces players to analyse their own relationship status or aspirations through a number of dream-like islands.
Each island within the game is home to a puzzle, a number of animals, benches, plants and sometimes a ghost-like incarnation of the protagonist’s character. Using a number of different objects, players must link totem like objects together in order to progress to the next island. Before being able to progress to the next island, players must answer a question that the totem presents them with. The questions are based on a person’s relationship status, what they consider love to be and generally a bunch of questions based around the topic.
While the game can be very vague at times (as is the nature of discussing love and relationships), Solo does manage to raise some interesting points about how we individually perceive love and how we, as a culture, react to it. The experience differs for everyone due to the personal nature and focus of the game, so it will be interesting to see what other individuals take away from the title.
Each new game starts with a set of questions centered around the player’s relationship status. I was surprised - and happy - to see that Team Gotham had also included the option to identify the protagonist as non-binary and gay. Inclusion is vital in a game about relationships, so hats off to the developers.
Between the puzzle and platforming segments there a number of interactions available with large, ghostly figures. Each one talks to the protagonists based on the player’s decisions at the main totems. This added exposition adds weight to the player’s choices, whilst also making me consider and reflect upon my own relationship. It was during these moments that Solo really shines as a fresh and original idea. I’ve not played a videogame in which my own relationship was the focal point of the game’s narrative progression, and while it doesn’t always work perfectly, it does manage to create a surprisingly deep and introspective experience.
The puzzle design centres around traversing various platforms via the use of blocks. There are blocks that elevate the protagonist across gaps, some that blow them upwards and a few that change the direction of water. The puzzle and platforming design is mostly quite fun, apart from the occasional obtuse puzzle that might frustrate players. I particularly enjoyed a segment in which I had to manipulate block placement in order to cast shadows in the right place.
There are optional objectives scattered across the islands of Solo that involve helping local wildlife. A particular favourite of mine helped involving a bee-like creature cross a bridge to its significant other so they can return their house. Solo sticks to its theme of love throughout the game and this is no different with the optional objectives.
Solo is absolutely gorgeous. Its visual design and aesthetic has it sat quite snugly between The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker and a Studio Ghibli motion picture. The world’s fauna and flora are colourful and vibrant, and play a large role in making Solo a really unique experience. This is all topped off by the in-game camera that allows players to take selfies as well as photograph the world around them. With an in-game system that allows direct uploads to Twitter, it’s clear that Team Gotham knew players would want to share the breathtakingly stunning world with their friends.
It’s rare to see a game so committed to one core theme, and for better or worse Solo is an incredibly unique experience. Whilst many will look at the title and see a gorgeous art style, those who play it will experience an introspective journey about love. Its delivery of core themes can be a little vague at times, but Solo is one of the most charming titles I've played in a long time.
Solo (Reviewed on Steam)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
While many will look at Solo and see a gorgeous art style, those who play it will experience an introspective journey about love. Its delivery of core themes can be a little vague at times, but Solo is one of the most charming titles I've played in a long time.