The Red Solstice is a tactical action RPG with all of your favourite features, minus all the unnecessary crap. Nkidu games is known for their solid releases that never (up until now) disappointed the PC-gaming community and this game is no exception.
Mars, year whatever (something in the future), you’re on a planet that isn’t earth (duh), but has been inhabited by humanity (I think it’s Mars or something). A catastrophe happened and now everything is in shambles and full of ugly creatures that are just waiting for you shoot them down. So yes, there is a story, but let’s face it, it won’t compel you, which – to be honest – fits the genre quite well. You know what else fits the genre? Everything else. The characters are visualised stereotypes, starting with the buff commanders who talk with a deep and ever so manly voice (I don’t think I need to mention the obligatory cigar in the splash picture) and ending with the petite females doing all the healing (they would make such caring mums). Neither visually, nor story-wise the wheel is being reinvented, but hey, why change something that works, right?
While some games of this kind get boring after a couple of missions where you use more or less tactics to run and gun your way through different kinds of hostile waves, TRS mixes the pace of the missions very well. A slow and hard tactical mission, where it will take you a fair amount of time to fight through the map is followed by an easier mission where the use of heavy gunners replace the need for tactics a fair bit. In most of the missions you will also have to face distinct challenges that need to be considered and worked around.
What makes this game more tactical than others is the appropriately named “tactical mode” where time is running 90% slower, where you can give individual commands to each and every member of your four man squad. Whenever your mates are not given commands individually, they follow your squad leader with the AI of lemmings. With three abilities for each member plus six item slots, this game will – while being tactical – keep your fingers very busy.
With four different difficulty levels, that each keep their promises, this game can be played by everybody. Just be aware and take the hints the game gives you seriously. One of those hints is: “Move tactically, no rush” and they are not kidding. Carefully navigating your team from cover to cover into strategically valuable positions is what will make you beat this game.
In between missions a very standard system allows you to distribute points throughout the attributes of your squad and their suits. Nothing special here, just the eternal question of why somebody’s performance in the last mission will make his weapon shoot faster in the next one.
On Steam the co-op mode is being highly praised by some of the curators and I won’t beat around the bush: They are wrong. If mind-blowingly thrilling co-op is what you are after, this is not how you want to spend your money. Don’t get me wrong, there is a co-op, there are people playing it, it’s working. It’s just that one hour of loot racing against your “teammates” just so that everyone dies instantly when shit’s going down, isn’t exactly my definition of a good time.
The Red Solstice delivers. You get what’s advertised and that is perfectly fine. If you enjoyed titles like XCOM, Diablo and sometimes think back to 2004’s “Full Spectrum Warrior” with a warm nostalgic feeling, then you will undoubtedly enjoy this game and it’s tactical RPG-styled gameplay. Amongst all the indie games and open software The Red Solstice might just be the most well-rounded and solid piece of software installed on my PC.
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