From the Developer
By the year 2500, Earth had become toxic and unsafe for human life. Pollution and overpopulation had ravaged the planet, forcing humanity to the stars. Colonies and settlements soon sprung up across the solar system, but man had not left its thirst for war behind. Then, they learned their sun was dying, and everything changed. Only when faced with threat greater than each other did the nations of man finally come together. The United Colonies of SOL (UCS) was born, its first and only mission: to locate a new home for mankind, safely beyond the doomed borders of our solar system.
Suit up and take on the role of the Lieutenant Commander, ace fighter pilot and 2nd in command of the UCS Atlas, as you search for a new home, battle a mysterious enemy, and rescue humanity from a fiery end.
What We Think
Sol: Exodus makes use of the Unreal engine to bring back the deep space dogfighting spirit of games like Wing Commander and applies an impressive coat of paint.
Reviewer Note: As the developers are still pushing out patches that change the game a lot, I must warn readers that I may have not played anywhere near the same game as what may currently be out. With that said the game lasted me three hours. There are no multiplayer modes but there are leaderboards and achievements which might keep players entertained for a few more hours.
The story was short but it did wrap up basically everything it had set out to do. As the game introduces the flight controls, it also explains that SOL, our sun, is dying and humanity now needs to expand its reach to another solar system. (Side note, SOL is not actually the name of our sun.) The prologue mission explains that humanity has found another habitable solar system but the Children of Dawn (COD) believe that God intended us to live and die in the galaxy orbiting Sol. Ten years later, the news reaches the dying solar system to announce that everyone can pack their bags and move to the new system (as if it’s just that simple).
A few rounds of of the eight mission series are dedicated to escorting transport ships. The COD continuously try to prevent the player from getting transport ships back to the main ship, the Atlas. These transport ships can be destroyed without requiring you to go back and reload the level, so it’s not a total loss but it is rather frustrating for such a quick game have so much content that feels more like filler. With everything said and done the game could probably be cut down considerably between the pauses in the A.I., waiting for the next part to push forward.
The cut scenes can’t be skipped and if you don’t pass a mission, there are no save points. The entire mission must be begun anew, from the start, no matter how much progress has been made by the player. This making the the inability to skip cut scenes more frustrating.
As gameplay goes, it’s not terrible but there is definitely room for improvement. The player controls a fighter-class ship from a cockpit view. All enemies are engaged in dogfights. There are three weapons to choose from: a chain gun, missiles and a rail gun, and although all are semi-unique, players can clear most missions by spamming the missiles and rail gun.
Besides shooting, there is the enemy ship hacking mechanic which is fairly simple; target the “hack point” that the Atlas will find for you using the “torchlight” feature, then simply remember what numbers show on the targeting screen and select the correct sequence at the end. This can reveal weak points on the ships, and can even fool the AI on the other ships to attack each other. The opportunity only comes up a few times and can get annoying to wait for the hack point to be presented but it does break up the monotony of constantly firing on enemies.
A lot of the mission objectives are variants of “Battle COD Forces” but with only about three different types of typical enemies it quickly gets repetitive. Larger and unique ships will occasionally appear, but once they are destroyed, they don’t reappear. The “cannon fodder” enemy classes that the game throws at you to hold you over get annoying and bland after only one or two missions. Replaying missions to achieve the highest rank possible is advisable as the bonus points awarded can be used to upgrade the fighter ship.
The HUD is quite nicely done though it does take up a large part of the total view, obscuring some of the niceties beyond the cockpit window. Nonetheless, that is endemic to the genre.
In Space, No One Can Hear Your Soundtrack Looping
The sound effects are repetitive to the point that they become grating. The music is rather epic, if at times a little generic and there is only one track that is only about half a minute, and I quickly turned it off. However, the voice acting was a definite plus: it is well done and helps to make the story and characters more engaging. Good sound design was otherwise demonstrated throughout.
Overall the story was decent, better than some of the sci-fi-themed games I have recently encountered, but it is clearly not a game based around story. The graphics are impressive, but ultimately don’t offer enough to cover up a general lack of substance. The gameplay was a bit wearing and I only ended up playing the game an hour at a time so I feel it wasn’t horrible but was still really lacking. To put the final nail in the coffin, right when the game was starting to get interesting, the final mission was a let down as, at its conclusion, it isn’t explained what the player should really be attacking. Also for a game that can be cleared in three hours, charging $10 USD seems a bit extravagant.
Nonetheless, if you are a fan of the genre, you might give it a go.