Solar Ash Review: Beautiful visuals and rapid platforming in this addictive sci-fi adventure

Indie developers Heart Machine return years after the success of Hyper Light Drifter, with their new platforming adventure Solar Ash

Solar Ash follows the story of Rei a Voidrunner, who embarked on a mission with her team to save their home planet from the Ultravoid, a world-eating black hole.

In their attempt to thwart the Ultravoid the Voidrunners aimed to use the Starseed, a colossal device.

During the mission, the other Voidrunners go missing and Rei is stranded alone in the Ultravoid unaware of the dangers around her.

After a brief encounter with a gigantic beast known as a Remnant, Rei sets off on an adventure to uncover the mystery behind the Ultravoid whilst trying to activate the Starseed.

Solar Ash is the newest game from indie developers Heart Machine
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Annapurna Interactive/ Heart Machine)

Solar Ash is a fascinating story of survival that delves into the mystical while staying true to its Sci-Fi roots.

Much of Solar Ash is shrouded in mystery, but as players progress, they will find the game has a rich lore that intertwines several different desperate tales into Rei’s ominous mission.

Solar Ash is a visual spectacle that constantly blurs the line between Sci-Fi and fantasy. The Ultravoid is a beautiful mash-up of neon colours.

Each area has captivating designs bursting with personality, that strike the right balance between technology and mysticism.

Rei’s futuristic character model flows effortlessly and her colour palette never clashes with the array of dreamy hues that make up each area.

The Remnants have a much more muted colour scheme that perfectly opposes the entire aesthetic seen throughout Solar Ash.

This is a clever design choice that instantly creates an unconscious bias towards the dull coloured Remnants who really stand out in the colourful world.

Rei will transverse the stylised world in the Ultravoid to try and activate the Starseed
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Annapurna Interactive/ Heart Machine)

Solar Ash is a non-stop psychedelic rollercoaster that keeps upping the hype with its outlandish designs and brazen colour schemes.

Solar Ash’s design is very bold and daring, so it would make sense to include that the music is too.

Solar Ash is filled with a mix of upbeat synth tunes and haunting themes that do a great job at personifying Rei’s feelings during this ominous adventure.

Solar Ash has voice acting throughout the game, which really helps to keep the narrative flowing. I particularly like the static playing during the void logs from the other Voidrunners, which adds an extra sense of mystery.

Solar Ash is an action platformer that takes place on an open-world split into different smaller hubs.

Each area will be unlocked by progressing through the story. The game heavily emphasises exploration and traversing the Ultravoid.

Each location can been beautifully designed
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Annapurna Interactive/ Heart Machine)

Rei’s controls flow really well and allow for easy travel, she can skate around levels while using her boost and whip to reach new areas.

She also has an ability called the Timeslip which allows her to slow down time and grapple onto awkward targets.

Each area is big and filled with clever platforming sequences that can be challenging, even for seasoned gamers.

There’s a good amount of secrets to find in each area and the game makes you work hard to reach them.

Exploration is pretty streamlined for the most part, but sometimes the camera has a hard time keeping up with Rei’s movement.

Rei’s mission is to activate the Starseed and to do this she must defeat the Remnants who are somehow blocking her network communication.

Each area Rei explores in the Ultravoid is home to a gigantic Remnant who serves as the game’s bosses.

Rei will face off against massive creatures called Remnants
(
Annapurna Interactive/ Heart Machine)

The boss battles utilise similar mechanics to the ones in Shadow of the Colossus, where rather than having an all-out death match, players will have to tackle the puzzle made up of the creatures

There are some really intelligent designs that left me wanting more, as these boss battles are a huge stand out point of the game.

Other than fighting remnants, Rei can undertake quests from different NPCs within the Ultravoid. The quest is a great addition that adds to the overall experience, just wish there were more of them.

Throughout the adventure, Rei will be able to upgrade her abilities by offering her plasma to the Cyd robots littered across the world.

She can also find new suits left by the other Voidrunners, that improve a specific ability.

However, Rei can only equip one at a time which is slightly frustrating and she can only swap them when talking to Cyd.

Finding landmarks called conduits are a crucial part of the game’s quality of life functionality as they allow players to teleport and repair themselves.

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Verdict

Solar Ash is a great follow up from developers Heart Machine, who have come a long way since their 2D epic Hyper Light Drifter.

Solar Ash does a lot of things right but it still lacks some much-needed depth to make it a complete package.

It may have come later than expected but Solar Ash is a hidden gem that shouldn’t be missed by gaming enthusiasts.

Solar Ash is out for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 on 2nd December

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