At a recent event, I was able to get my first hands-on experience with Red Solstice 2: Survivors. It is planned for launch in early 2017 and will be a follow-up to Classic Red Solstice. While the first game had a fairly standard fantasy setting, the new game will take place in a science fiction environment.
I’m not going to lie, I had no idea of the existence of the Red Solstice franchise until I picked up this little Red Solstice 2 compilation, offered by Ironware and 505 Games. But I think that’s a mistake on my part: Who wouldn’t want to play a real-time team-based tactical game clearly inspired by the Alien franchise? But then again, we’re not here to wallow in the past. We’re here to talk about Red Solstice 2: Survivors and how this game, while not particularly impressive in the demo, is an enjoyable sci-fi experience. The release is scheduled for later this year.
Red Solstice 2: Survivors follows the same principle and is a mix of Rainbow Six’s tactical approach to problem-solving (and the ability to play with friends in a squad), Diablo’s control scheme, and the usual Alien-inspired RTS and sci-fi horror movies. It’s like a breath of fresh air for those still complaining about the death of the Dead Space franchise. This game has a lot of history and assumes you have already played its predecessor. If like me, you haven’t played the first game, you won’t understand the plot. Fortunately, killing alien zombies in a deserted environment is still exciting enough that you can ignore that aspect.
The control system of Red Solstice 2 takes some getting used to, considering the number of actions and button combinations available. However, I appreciated the natural and unobtrusive way the game presented its learning mechanisms during this demo mission. Not only do you always have two weapons at your disposal, but you can also choose to attack enemies manually with a traditional aiming grid, or activate a surveillance beam that blows away anyone within range. Thanks to the game’s surprisingly responsive AI, this was a breeze, but occasionally I’d switch to manual mode to shoot explosive barrels nearby to kill a whole bunch of enemies at once.
Speaking of quick missions: I was surprised by the quality of the game: Even on weak hardware, it can maintain a decent frame rate on high settings. Granted, it’s not the most beautiful or detailed game in the world, as much of the visual field is hidden behind total darkness, but I enjoyed the quality of the shadows and lighting effects. The sound department was nothing special, despite the many dubs. The voice of the AI following you is surprisingly decent, but the allied soldiers who show up later in the mission sound very amateurish.
In short, it’s Red Solstice 2: The prequel version of Survivors was not only interesting enough to look forward to the final product but also good enough to want to play the prequel to learn more about the story and setting of the franchise and be 100% ready for what’s in store when the final product comes out. It wasn’t the most exciting tactical game, but the combination of intuitive controls, tactical gameplay, and sci-fi horror combined with surprisingly good graphics was enough to keep me interested.
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