There are plenty of shooters out there on the gaming market. Many of them, while they do provide some spectacular visuals and respectable appeal, often times fall to the wayside because it just couldn’t keep up with the competition. It’s not that these games are terrible; it’s just that, when you’re surrounded by sharks you get consumed very quickly by all the popularity. So this brings us to our review for the day which is Solstice Chronicles: MIA, a game developed by Ironward, the same team who developed The Red Solstice which was a tactical 8-player co-op survival game. Solstice Chronicles: MIA is the follow up to that madness and takes all of the cool tactical features of its past title and creates an even more polished spin-off title with a lot of action, and a ton of depth. Solstice Chronicles: MIA is labeled as a twin-stick shooter meaning that, one analog controller provides the movement of the character while the other controls the weapon in hand. This allows for more freedom and precision when aiming down your sights to take down a horde of mutants, and in Solstice Chronicles: MIA you’re going to need accurate at all times.
What to Expect
Using an isometric view much like Diablo or Path of Exile, Solstice Chronicles: MIA gives you a much wider perspective on what’s taking place on screen, allowing you to effectively plan out your strategy in order to disintegrate any mutants that try to approach you. There’s a ton of action within the game and it reminded us of a more mature rated version of Plants vs Zombies, or a top down version of Resident Evil and even House of the Dead. In this game, your ammo is essential to your survival and very little errors can be made, especially in the harder difficulties when these mutants show no mercy. Expect there to be a lot of dying in the early stages of the game not because it’s incredibly hard, but because it will take some time to get accustomed to not only relying on your vast array of weapons, but your drone to provide all of the right tools for the right circumstance. We’ll go into more detail about your partner drone later in the review but for now we’ll say that your drone is plays a very important role in your survival, and not properly using her will cause some serious problems down the road. On that note, let’s steer our attention now to the gameplay where we’ll dive deeper into the various modes, along with pros and cons that come with the game.
There really isn’t much of a story behind Solstice Chronicles: MIA other than that you’re a soldier trapped in this unforgiving world known as the Mars Colony. Now you’ve come across a drone that you’re not very particular with but must work alongside each other to survive at all costs. This drone, as we stated earlier, plays such an integral role in just how long you survive in the game because ammo doesn’t come very often and you’ll find yourself trapped in a corner with nothing to strike back with. Since this game is focused on staying alive, there’s a very strong strategic element embedded within everything, and so every decision you make can determine your fate very quickly. The game starts off slow by showing you the ropes of how to play and clearly explains how to effectively use the drone to create advantageous situations. However, using the drone too much comes with a price and that price can potentially leave you broke if you act careless or become too reliant on it.
We’ll give you an example to make things a little more transparent. The drone has 4 modes to choose from: Drone Scout, Drone Bomb, Drone Block and Drone Taunt. Each of these abilities provides different effects and can either reduce your threat level or increase it which could favor you or could kill you. To be more specific with regards to say the Drone Scout which increases the amount of items that you need at the time, it also can raise the threat level and create some serious situations you’ll need to deal with. Luckily with the Drone Scout, every item increases in its power which means you’re likely to get a special item like a flamethrower that does an incredible amount of damage, or a gun that can wipe out a total group of enemies simply by charging it up. With so much versatility to play with the amount of fun you can have in the game is limitless, since there’s really no guarantee that you’ll always get the weapon you need and so you’ll have to use whatever is in your arsenal to get the job done. It’s the sheer thrill of not knowing the outcome that keeps you coming back for more, and with 22 stages along with 5 difficulties to choose from Solstice Chronicles: MIA is a truly action packed experience.
There are RPG elements within the game as well such as being able to choose a specific class, level it up and be able to obtain stronger tools to assist you in battle. You can also upgrade your general tools like your health, grenade explosion radius, increasing bullet damage and more. Of course you’ll be able to upgrade the drone which as we said before can be of great use, so we recommend upgrading as much as you can to achieve the best results. So with all of the great things out of the way, let’s rewind for a moment to look at some of the things that made us question the game a little. The cutscenes in this game are hilariously bad for starters simply because for one, they end so abruptly and in comical fashion but also because the CG reminds us of PS3 titles. It looks very dated and the animations just look rigid at times. While you’re in game the atmosphere and visuals are truly amazing to look at especially with all the effects pertaining to the flamethrower or your laser cannon. Just try and skip the cutscenes to save yourself the pain or better yet, just watch them for yourself to see why we find it lousy. Since Solstice Chronicles: MIA is labeled as a twin-stick shooter you’d assume that a mouse and keyboard would do the trick, and it certainly does. However there were times when things didn’t feel to concise, especially when trying to aim with the mouse. Perhaps a controller would’ve been somewhat better but we didn’t have one around at the time to really try it out. Needless to say the game still played smoothly with only a few little aiming issues here and there.
One other issue we found a little irritating at times was the use of stamina in the game. Now we know it’s all about survival and thrill, but nothing is thrilling when you’re trying to run from a horde of enemies while also trying to shoot them at the same time, with your stamina being used for both actions. So for example, if we’re using the flamethrower it requires stamina to use, but that very same stamina is used for us to run away so there were times when we got destroyed by a ton of mutants because all of our stamina had been used to try and fry them. This caused a lot of headaches for us and caused some unnecessary game overs that easily could’ve been avoided, had the functionality of the stamina been altered in some way. Be that as it may, it still didn’t stop us from playing because all we had to do was just be wary of our stamina at all times, and come up with a smarter strategy to avoid using weapons that suck up our energy. Once we got around that hurdle the game became fun again and it actually forced us to use more weapons instead of relying on the stronger ones all the time. It gave us purpose and made us realize the value in having options rather than limiting yourself and causing more harm in the end.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Overall Solstice Chronicles: MIA is certainly worth the expense at only $17.99 at the time of this article being written, and hopefully the price will remain the same for a while. It certainly provides a lot of excitement and anyone who’s a fan of action packed thrills will definitely find Solstice Chronicles: MIA to satisfy all your cravings. Despite some of the drawbacks, the game illustrated through cutscenes the overall appeal overshadows all of that, and you often forget the cutscenes exist in the end. The voice acting is decent and gives life to the main character the drone which is very fitting to be honest. Both have their sarcastic remarks and corny punchlines but perhaps that’s what makes watching the cutscenes so funny, it’s that it doesn’t really align with all of this wild action taking place at times. It takes the tension off of you and just makes playing the game a fun experience rather than a salt inducing one. We would definitely recommend this game to anyone who loves a good alien breed-like shooter (that’s what they call it these days apparently) and for anyone who really just wants a change of pace from all of those sharks swimming around out there. For once, you can just relax in the shallow end of the pool and take things easy while swinging your big guns around and be the boss for a change.
Isometric view gives it a very dark Diablo-esque feel.
Large variety of weapons and the RPG level up system is great.
Survival mode is very very challenging but very very rewarding.
Local co-op is a nice thing.
Cutscenes felt dated and animations looked rigid.
Stamina usage could’ve been improved a bit.
No online multiplayer co-op ;(
Honey's Final Verdict:
Now that you’ve come this far we hope your wallet is already open and ready to click the purchase button in the Steam store. We assure you there will not be any disappointment because there’s plenty of replay value to keep you coming back for more. Plus if you have a friend around the two of you can blast these mutants to bits and share a laugh with all of those corny moments. Whether you’re alone or with a partner, Solstice Chronicles: MIA is one title that keeps giving much like the drone that follows you around all the time. To see more gameplay be sure to follow us on Twitch and of course, follow us on Twitter to know when cool news drops such as the latest game reviews and updates.
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!