I don’t even know where to begin with this game. Solo is one of best games I’ve played in the last five years; as beautiful as it is thought provoking. On its surface, Solo is a simple puzzle platformer with gorgeous visuals and a stunning color palette reminiscent of Wind Waker. But it’s made clear from the get-go that this game is going to be so much more than a simple experience.
Solo is much more of an introspective soul search than anything else. Players are encouraged to use their own life experiences to influence the decisions they have to make along the way. This makes for a slightly different outcome for every person who plays; it really forces players to slow down and think about not only how their choices will affect game play, but how their choices have led them to this exact moment in their lives.
Developer: Team Gotham
Publisher: Team Gotham
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by Developer
Interface: Keyboard and Mouse/Gamepad
Available on: Steam
Solo is an introspective puzzler set on a gorgeous and surreal archipelago. Reflect on your loving relationships by exploring contemplative, dream-like islands.
The thing about Solo that stuck me as the most interesting is that it’s exceptionally inclusive. During character customization, players can choose between male, female and non-binary gender expression for not only their own avatar, but for their love interest as well. As a gay woman who is very much starved for natural and positive queer representation in games and other media, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air to see gender expression/identity and sexual orientation be presented so organically. Solo doesn’t congratulate itself on being LGBT+ inclusive, it just is, and it doesn’t care what you think of that.
Ultimately, Solo is a game about a player’s personal philosophy on romantic relationships as well as the ethos of how that philosophy (as well as the relationship itself) meshes with societal expectations and social mores. This concept wouldn’t have been executed very well at all if Team Gotham had tried to make everyone relate to only one kind of romantic experience. Because no two people experience love and romance the same way. And on the same token, no one person experiences love and romance the same way twice.
Throughout the game, players solve increasingly intricate platforming puzzles to reach both a lighthouse and totem. When players reach the lighthouse, it activates the totem which is usually located further along in the area. Totems ask players questions meant to allow players to evaluate and adjust their mindset regarding romantic love. These questions range from simply asking if a player has ever been in a romantic relationship to challenging ideas and attitudes regarding polyamory, gender fluidity and sex.
It was very interesting to see what new ideas and concepts were explored with each new area of the world. Having had only two serious relationships which were vastly different experiences (one…not so great, and my current one as amazing as anything could possibly get), I sometimes wondered if I had missed out on certain experiences by not ever dating casually. But when I took into account my personal experience of coming out and the effect that had on my emotional well-being, I was left feeling rather content.
It’s amazing how Solo manages to evoke such introspection and emotional responses with just a few simple (and not so simple) questions. As I said before, this isn’t so much a game as it is a personal, introspective journey for players. The puzzles are well-thought out and challenging, though never so much so that I felt frustrated or stuck. The environment is a delight to look at; bright, vivid colors saturate every element of the archipelago and the cartoonish art lends a deceptively childlike quality to the overall experience. The music is soft and calm.With gently plucking harps and sweeping string sections, players are lulled into an almost meditative state that’s as relaxing as it is conducive to self-reflection.
If you’re looking for a nice little game to wile away the time with, or want to follow the rabbit hole of romantic philosophy, Solo is a charming and worthwhile addition to any Steam library