Solar Ash is a futuristic skateboarding game that’s set in the future, where you play as one of five characters who have to achieve their goals and save the world. The developers offer quite an interesting take on what it means to be human and how we can better ourselves.
“Solar Ash Review: Skating Across the Stars” is a game that has players skating across the stars. The game was released on July 10, 2019 and it’s available for download on Steam.
Solar Ash provides something few games dare to: gameplay centered on a small set of tools that never grows, with no growth based on gear, skills, or levels other than a minor gain in health. Skating, climbing, leaping, grappling, and a basic three-hit combo assault are the sole primary elements in this newest from Heart Machine, the team behind Hyper Light Drifter.
Solar Ash is reminiscent of Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, two of the best games of the last decade. Solar Ash instead invites you to utilize those key systems in new and developing ways, rather than allowing you to change or enhance them. Without adding anything to the fundamental set of skills, each new region encourages you to rethink how you play.
The fighting follows a similar trend, with bosses and foes demanding more accuracy, new methods, or extra mobility skills in order to be defeated effectively. Taking down bosses is also the major way of furthering the tale, which has some interesting twists and turns but isn’t going to win any awards. Side material contributes to the flavor of the story, giving it a more intimate tone in a story with otherwise intergalactic ramifications.
Solar Ash is, in summary, a complete package, with fantastic gameplay, a well-told narrative, and a fully rendered setting ripe for exploration. It has a few shortcomings, but they are much outweighed by the delight gained from everything else.
Review of Solar Ash: Skating Across the Stars
Solar Ash takes place inside the Ultravoid, a gigantic black hole. You play as Rei, a Voidwalker who combines God’s strength and anime magical space technology to glide into the gravity hole, which is littered with the wreckage of numerous worlds that have been destroyed. Her mission is to trigger the Starseed, a massive obelisk that will stabilize the Ultravoid and prevent it from devouring her home world.
Rei must eliminate six abnormal energy signatures known as Remnants in order for the Starseed to calibrate correctly and do the impossible. Rei will learn the fate of the other Voidwalkers, the truth about her purpose, and have the opportunity to save the few surviving creatures in the Ultravoid along the journey.
The game is simple to play. Rei can skate on most surfaces (except up buildings), grind on railings, climb on strange-looking slime, and strike her adversaries with energy blades. A single button push sends you flying around the environment, and traversal is smooth and flawless.
You may boost every few seconds for a boost in momentum, allowing you to lengthen your leaps or safely go past a danger. You may even pause time for a few seconds to increase your grappling distance or assess the effectiveness of a leap.
These concepts provide for a lot of gameplay variety, as shown in Breath of the Wild’s Shrines and Mario Odyssey’s Moon Challenges, respectively. She can only “progress” by adding single points to her health pool or by wearing various Voidrunner costumes that provide passive boosts.
As a result, progress is nearly entirely yours. The early levels are simple, missing the gravity and perspective-warping that characterize later levels. This is also true of the bosses. Late-game bosses need you to go up, down, diagonally, and back. A straight line is the first boss.
New zones present new mechanics and then challenge you to make varied mobility options. The new systems aren’t limited to the areas where they were first introduced. As you go further into the Ultravoid, you’ll find yourself utilizing them again and again.
In most situations, the increased complexity improves the gameplay by offering designers additional opportunities to test your knowledge and expertise. It nearly always works, and environments twist into three-dimensional mazes, testing your spatial awareness. New opponent kinds need new approach techniques, while bosses and platforming difficulties necessitate ever-increasing control and technical proficiency.
The issues aren’t caused by the level or system design. The camera is the one that gets in the way. Solar Ash’s camera tries its best to remain behind Rei while not being actively moved, since it is a third-person platformer at its heart. When her quick movement speed is combined with the continuously fluctuating terrain, getting throughout the planet might become a burden. You’ll complete a series of faultless leaps just to have a piece of geometry occupy half your screen, forcing you to restart from a checkpoint.
Solar Ash’s flaws aren’t limited to camera malfunctions. Anyone who is acquainted with science fiction cliches will not be impressed by this novel. Most of the surprises are predictable, and the ones that did surprise me were more of a “Hey, that’s cool” than “Holy crap, that was great!” It may also be priceless at times, relying largely on concepts like “lost hope” and solidarity. Thankfully, these occurrences are few, and they are almost entirely missing from the side material, where the greatest writing may be found.
Solar Ash’s worldbuilding is some of the greatest I’ve seen in a long time. Aside from its fairly hackneyed themes, learning about the Ultravoid and the civilizations that inhabit it is a fascinating journey. Discovering the mysteries of the universe reminds me of Dark Souls and the finest Souls-likes, when every turn may provide a new tale clue.
The few characters you encounter are likewise well-developed. Their difficulties are based on the same concepts as the rest of the game — hope, death, and loss — but they are more human in nature. They don’t have to be human to seek meaning, to know that their loved ones are secure, or to believe that their efforts are not in vain. These side tales are sometimes amusing, and sometimes heartbreaking, but they’re all worth searching out.
If there was one thing I could wish for from Solar Ash, it would be better gameplay-story connection. We’re never told anything about how Voidrunner boots enable you to skate over cosmic structures, and we’re never told much about Rei’s different powers. Indeed, the idea that we’re effectively rollerskating to rescue the world is never mentioned, and it all boils down to “because video games.” This discrepancy isn’t fatal, but considering the quality of the rest of the game, that additional step would have elevated Solar Ash to new heights.
Review of Solar Ash – The Bottom Line
- Outstanding mechanics
- Characters and world are well-developed.
- Music that is both relaxing and suitable.
- Smooth as butter performance
- At times, the story seems cliched.
- The camera might be more of a hindrance than a benefit.
Solar Ash is an accomplishment, particularly considering the size of Heart Machine’s staff. There aren’t many games like it, and its influences are some of the best in the industry. Learning from the greatest is far easier to fail at, because Solar Ash virtually never fails.
Even the most adored games are plagued by difficulties, and the more I thought about Solar Ash, the more I understood how much I loved every second of it. I hope you do as well.
[Note: The copy of Solar Ash used for this review was given by Annapurna Interactive.]
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“hyper light drifter sequel” is a game that was released in 2016. It is a 2D platformer with an art style similar to the “Skating Across the Stars”.
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