First Impressions: Solstice Chronicles: MIA

Solstice Chronicles Editorial

Twin-Stick shooters are a blast if you’ll pardon the expression. They’re almost universally challenging, you’ll face hordes of enemies, and they’ve been around since the 70s/80s. You tend to get lots of really cool guns, powerups, grenades, and things to wipe the field because, damnit, you’re gonna need them. You get some of those in the game I’ve been taking look at in Solstice Chronicles: MIA. It’s a twin-stick in Alpha Testing over on Steam, and I have to say, for an alpha, it’s damn fun. Challenging as Hell, gritty, dark [literally], but terribly fun. You play as a Space Marine, I believe, who sounds suspiciously like Batman from the Animated Series. At some points he does, anyway. You start off with just you, a pistol, and a snarky little robot that helps you through the tutorial phase. You learn about ammo drops, picking up new guns, and the various functions your little buddy can do to help [and also simultaneously hinder, because why should anything be easy?] on your quest to destroy these aliens or mutants. These hideous creatures have to be exploded into bits, and you will have the tools for the job. That’s the tale behind Solstice Chronicles: MIA; you have to stop this alien menace, and it’s going to take every bullet in the world to do it. It’s a follow-up to the game The Red Solstice, which received overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam. I think Solstice Chronicles: MIA will do the same.

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You’re going to run out of ammo though, and grenades. A lot. That’s gonna happen. Like I said above though, you do have a bit of help.  Your drone can do a few tasks like start a bomb [that grows in radius, and can also kill you], set up a drop zone for much-needed items [the longer you stand in it and get items, the higher the threat meter goes], or taunt the aliens. I haven’t found a use for that one yet, because every time I do, I get overwhelmed unless I have enough grenades and bullets. You can also set up a force field! It keeps out weaker aliens, but the bigger ones can get through, albeit with a slow. Use it too long, and a Boss will spawn, though! Any help in this game that the drone can offer comes at a very high price, so only use it sparingly. I think that’s why it’s like that. Twin-stick shooters are never easy, even on the Easy setting. That’s one of the things I like about this game. It gives a tiny bit of hand-holding, but then when you do it, they slap your hand on the stove to teach you a lesson: There’s no such thing as a free meal! Or … ammo drop. You can also turn on auto-aim if you’re having issues with the twin-stick/there are simply too many things around, but when the bar for it goes down, you have to wait before doing it again.

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You can upgrade your guns, learn abilities/gain skills, and swap out your kit in bits and pieces. You can change your flare [one of the only ways to really see in the darkness] into a variety of grenades, you can set up a turret with a limited amount of ammo to help you fight bosses and waves of grass, exploding aliens. and choose your two guns you start with for each stage. So far I’ve seen a shotgun, SMG, pistol, and assault rifle, but I’m sure there are more than that. Each gun has its own range/width to the fire, and I highly recommend you don’t piss bullets away on the SMG by firing before they’re decently close. But all guns use the same ammo. I hate/like this. Hate it, because I can’t swap guns and get back to killing. Love it, because I pretty much can always get ammo for any gun. And with lots of gun options, simplifying it is really the best option. I also really love that I can fire a rocket that explodes, especially when there’s a horde waiting and several cans of conveniently flammable liquid around. BOOM! goes the thunderous sound, as bodies squelch and dissipate into a fine mist within flickering flames. If you die, and you will definitely die, you can respawn a few times, and anything near you is likely to explode. You do have a limited amount of lives, though, and no continues. You get a game over. . .It happened a lot, but I’m not the best action gamer, no matter how much I love them.

Hype Train Verdict: It’s chugging along! 

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This is in the alpha phase, so I hesitate to give it a rating, but it’s definitely fun. This is a game I’d like to play multiplayer in, 2, maybe 4 people. It’s a style of game I want to see come back: top-down/isometric, twin-stick action. Tons of enemies, tons of difficulty, requiring tactical thinking and decision making with edge-of-your-seat action. This is not a game I forsee people just sitting down and beating in one sitting. There also appears to be a Survival mode, and if your character survives, your stats go with you, probably to the main game, which would be awesome. You need all the help you can get in Solstice Chronicles: MIA. The pace is deliberately slow, the visuals are purposefully dark [but flares can help, as can explosions], and the difficulty is intentionally ramped up. That’s the way games were when I was a younger man, and I’m glad to see them come back. Things I’d like to see fixed up though: The Marine’s run speed, the speed of his auto-attack, maybe a continue system? That last one I don’t suppose is necessary, but it sure would be nice. This build only featured the first three levels, so I guess it all makes sense that I’d have to start over.  All in all, Solstice Chronicles: MIA is fun, and it’s only going to get better as time marches on!

It’s also almost completely funded on Fig! 98% there! Want to help or take a look? Click this link!

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  • Herschel Pilcher III

    I love a good twin-stick shooter. And this one seems to check all the boxes.

    And naturally, it’s some lone space marine against the endless hordes of ‘not humans’. This is why aliens won’t talk to us. They know as soon as they show up.. SEND IN THA MARINES!!