Fort Solis PC Review

A story of intrigue leads you through Mars and it is all in the presentation for this one.

By JustAnotherJake, Posted 23 Aug 2023

Every now and then, some genres and themes in games become very abundant, and in 2023 it really seems like the space setting is this year's theme. To narrow that down, there is also the fact that there is a large amount of horror-based horror games, with the two most notable being the Dead Space Remake and The Callisto Protocol.

There's a lot of potential with any games taking place in space, and with so much of our real-world space being unknown, it's only fair that a lot of media can base their horror stories in that wildly open setting. Now, another game has popped up with some interesting promises. That game of course is Fort Solis, however, it brings in much more than just a story in space with some horror elements.

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To clear things right off of the bat, Fort Solis really isn’t like Dead Space or The Collisto Protocol aside from the environmental basis. Despite there being a few voices online comparing the games, Fort Solis is a much more narrative-driven game rather than a combat-heavy shooter or action title. That narrative focus is what really makes the game stand out, and while things seem scary it is more along the lines of a thriller rather than a straight-up horror. The game is more so a roller coaster rather than an interactive ride. 

With the narrative taking the focus in Fort Solis, there is a lot of focus in the presentational department. There are several noticeable actors playing the roles of the main cast. Some of the more notable ones are Roger Clark, who is known for his performance as Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2, Troy Baker, who is known for his performance as Joel Miller in The Last of Us, and Julia Brown, who is making her video game debut but is known for her performances on television programs like M.I. High and The Last Kingdom.

All three actors are featured in the game heavily, with Roger Clark playing the protagonist Jack Leary, Troy Baker playing Doctor Wyatt Taylor, and Julia Brown playing companion Jessica Appleton. Their performances in the game are amazing, and with the large amount of dialogue present in the game it is an impressive feat for all involved.

Fort Solis’ presentation is also rather good on all fronts. Going along with the relation to audio, the mixing and balance of the audio are very nice, and it becomes very important when the sounds of voice game from several different points while several different things happen in the background. Whether it's a quiet and empty hall or outside on the surface of Mars with a storm crashing down, everything sounds and mixes excellently. Even when there is a bit of ambient music to fill the silent void, it is properly fitting to the environment and even sets the tone of dread or curiosity as need be. That tone is really important to the game, as mentioned earlier, the game is a lot less action based than some previews would have suggested. 

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Fort Solis also does an amazing job in the visual department as well, as there are so many details found in the environments and the models. Things feel like they would fit in a space setting, and the lighting makes things feel dreadful, which is likely one of the reasons the game was compared to Dead Space so much before it was truly shown off.

But what is truly amazing in the visual department is the character models, especially considering that this is an indie game, and a debut one at that. The motion capture feels super natural and the facial animations don’t feel overly exaggerated. It is a ll a nice blend to make a nice-looking game, and even if a computer needs to run things on lower settings, the option is there, and for the most part, things still look pretty good even on lower settings. 

With Fort Solis’ heavy focus on story, surely they would knock it out of the park, but that unfortunately isn’t quite the case. The quality of the story will differ for a lot of players as it heavily depends on how attentive the player is to the story and that can be influenced by numerous elements. For instance, there may be some players who simply don’t enjoy the direction the story is going and for some, this may be the exact type of story they are looking for.

To get to the point in a quick matter, the game is very high quality in terms of story, but it walks such a fine line that it is easy to see why some players may not enjoy the plot that is dissected as the game moves forward. The story starts simple enough, with it being about a distress signal from a mining facility on Mars being investigated by our protagonist Jack Leary. It is after that introduction period that the game opens its story up to a slower burn of investigation.

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It is in those more investigative moments that Fort Solis really feels slow, and that is the biggest issue with the game across the board. Not only does the plot slow down and take a long time to get going, but the pace at which the movement is done in the game is incredibly slow. It is a natural slow, as it isn’t an action game, but at some points, it really feels like a movie with absolutely zero cuts where it definitely didn’t need to show something like walking down a long empty hallway or backtrack to a previous area. In a weird sense as bad as this sounds, it isn’t always a bother especially given how investing the story can be.

The real issue that Fort Solis has with its slow movement is the fact that it can be rather easy to get lost. Many areas will tend to blend together in their more dense parts with metal walls and same-looking doors, and there are sometimes areas that are simply too similar to tell apart or be recognizable enough to remember.

To make matters worse, aside from the already slope movement, the in-game map is absolutely no help, the map almost serves no purpose other than to give a general idea of where the player is. This is one of the few areas that the game could absolutely use some tuning up. Despite this, the environments still feel like they're realistic and not something simply built to be level designed for a video game, so there is a bit of an upside to this.

There are absolutely going to be voices online that will say that Fort Solis would work better as a movie, or that the game isn’t very much of a game at all. While in some cases, this may be true as if the game did cut between walking down halls, then it wouldn’t have many interactions to make the game a game. But it is in those moments that the player has time to think and process the story as it unfolds.

If anything, the narrative fits the medium of a video game rather perfectly as what it has as flaws also has its merits. Again, this will mostly matter to taste in video games, but regardless the story fits the medium regardless of opinions. 

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The elements that make Fort Solis more game-like are not too in-depth and that may come to many as rather disappointing. But that was, as already discussed, by design. It is mostly just quick time events and interacting with things that make up the mechanical aspects of the game.

But with it being so straightforward mechanically, it leaves little room for error in that department and it delivers where it promises. Complaining about the lack of action or mechanics would be like complaining that a visual novel has too much dialogue, as it is the point of the game to be more of a cinematic experience.

Fort Solis does and achieves what it wants to, and it does it well. However, it isn’t for everyone, and it is easy to see why. The elements that make it good may also hold it back from being great. With such a heavy focus on the story, many people will drop off before they experience the whole thing, and the game isn’t super long.

The elements that do give the game its intractability aren’t very big or in-depth but they aren’t supposed to be. But with the slow walking speed and, by proxy, the slow exploration, there is another hurdle for some players to mentally jump over before they can accept Fort Solis as the experience it is trying to be.

At this point, it is already clear that even if this game doesn’t blow everyone away that the developers at Fallen Leaf Studios and Black Drakkar Games absolutely have some great talent in their ranks. The amount of detail in the game is astounding for teams that are working on their first game. Whether it is from a visual standpoint, an audio standpoint, or even just from the perspective of the writing, this game is overflowing with polish and charm.

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The only element that needs to be cleaned up from the teams is probably how the game is marketed as it seems to have left a lot of people with the wrong idea of how the game will work or how it plays out. Sure there are a few interviews, but trailers need to be a bit more clear with things. However, in the age of the internet, it is really easy for things to go missed or overlooked so there possibly is a trailer that spells things out much better and it simply is just being overlooked by many.

The gameplay of Fort Solis is not the focus, which may seem backward to some as it is a video game, but the medium of a video game allows for the story of Fort Solis to be told in a manner that fits the narrative to perfection. It is simply just not for everyone. Those who enjoy it will absolutely get a nice treat out of the story but those who don’t enjoy what is here will probably forget it in seconds or hate it.

Despite the fact that the game will be stuck in this sort of limbo where it is hard to tell whether the game will be enjoyed or not by the masses, it really is a great time. The four to five hours that this game has in store will be a treat to those who can sit through the narrative, but again, this sort of game isn’t for everyone in the market.

Jacob Cowsert (@TweetJAJ)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Fort Solis


Platform(s): PC, PS5
Publisher(s): Dear Villagers
Developer(s): Fallen Leaf, Black Drakkar Games, Fallen Leaf S.A.
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Narrative Adventure, Walking Simulator
Release Date: 2023-08-22

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