A twisted first-person journey in a world the place Nikola Tesla’s concepts got here to life.
Close to the Sun is an enthralling alternate-history thriller that explores the implications of a actuality through which all of Nikola Tesla’s bold, wild, and sometimes deranged concepts got here to life. Some pacing issues and repetitive trial and error segments could make it a bit inconsistent at occasions, but it surely nonetheless does an exquisite job of letting you get misplaced in its charming corridors.
In Near the Solar you play as Rose, an inquisitive journalist who comes aboard Tesla’s city-sized ship, referred to as the Helios, to seek out and rescue her sister Ada. It doesn’t take lengthy for occasions to go sideways as issues are very a lot not as they appear. Whereas the story begins out gradual, there are many lingering questions and weird mysteries occurring that successfully held my consideration to the top of its roughly six-hour playtime.
Near the Solar wears its inspirations on its sleeve, proudly. The attractive artwork deco designs are harking back to BioShock’s Rapture and the combat-less gameplay lifts heavy inspiration from the likes of Outlast. The items aren’t unique in any respect, however Near the Solar places every thing collectively in a singular means that seems like a super-concentrated dose of the very best elements of “strolling simulators” – a style label I don’t love, however is fairly applicable on this case. And although I wouldn’t name it a horror sport, there are plenty of ugly, terrifying moments all through.
It’ll pull you in so long as you’re in the appropriate temper for its slow-paced world constructing.
You spend most of your time strolling down hallways, in search of clues, studying notes, and unlocking the subsequent space of the ship by fixing temporary mind teasers like memorizing symbols on geometric objects or searching down passcodes on items of paper. It may be a bit boring at occasions, however when you’re in the appropriate temper for its slow-paced world constructing, its glorious sound design will pull you in. Voice appearing is top-notch, ambient sounds actually set the temper, and the moments of deafening silence turn into simply as vital and highly effective because the sparsely positioned music.
The issue with these kinds of video games is simply how essential pacing is. If you happen to get caught on a puzzle as a consequence of forgetting a form, can’t work out the place to go due to multi-level maze-like map layouts, or don’t set off the precise proper factor you had been speculated to do since you weren’t trying the appropriate spot once you entered the room, then it creates a suffocating dullness. At three factors I briefly acquired misplaced or couldn’t fairly work out what to do for longer than anticipated due to obtuse puzzle design not making it clear what I ought to search for and it actually soured the tone. It’s not a lot that puzzles are tough, however extra in order that lots of them contain memorization and trial-and-error segments that may be a bit tedious.
There are additionally a handful of chase sequences that basically felt misplaced. Throughout these scenes it’s a must to completely navigate mazes and leap over objects on the proper time and make the proper turns till the top. If you happen to mess up and get caught, you’re immediately lifeless and have to begin over. Replaying the identical part, bookended by brief loading screens, again and again might be extraordinarily tedious, particularly as a result of it doesn’t do an important job of constructing it clear the place you’re speculated to go along with unpredictable particles or closed-off passageways blocking your means. Hitting a lifeless finish I had no means of planning for after which being compelled to redo all the chase was by no means enjoyable.
Near the Solar is at its greatest when it actually leans into the alternate-history angle.
You’ll see a handful of different characters periodically, however most exposition is delivered by means of conversations over radio alerts between Rose and different characters – which is actually an excellent factor as a result of, regardless of how gorgeously detailed the environments are, each time a personality is on display their stiff animations distractingly stick out.
Near the Solar is at its greatest when it actually leans into the alternate-history angle. There’s one bit particularly very early on that has you stroll by means of a portion of the ship that acts like a museum of Tesla’s most iconic innovations. At every station you may hearken to an audio recording of Tesla describing the invention to you and, for just a few temporary minutes, his genius is laid naked. I liked listening to concerning the lofty concepts behind the Loss of life Ray, a weapon so highly effective it might finish all battle out of worry, or the Tesla Tower and its wi-fi power transmissions. It’s an important scene that helps construct up the grandeur of his character within the face of an otherwise-crumbling repute on this fictional universe.
Earlier than lengthy, you begin to see echoes of previous moments all through the ship. Specks of what’s known as “chaotic power” kind imprecise silhouettes of individuals speaking, mingling, and strolling round – fortunately they’re so esoteric they don’t actually endure from the identical animation points as the complete character fashions. It’s acquired an eerie high quality and does an excellent job of constructing the Helios really feel lived in, and infrequently these echoes paved the way by means of a piece or present a touch for puzzles. They’re a neat visible software that by no means will get tiresome or overused.