Title: The Red Solstice
Platform: Steam, Windows

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Real Time Strategy, Co-op
Players: Single player, Co-op Online Multiplayer (2-8)


Written by Dragoon 27th July 2015
















The first thing that you will probably experience in Ironwards The Red Solstice is death and it will be a massively reoccurring element throughout your time with the game. Move too fast through the level? Death. Move too slowly? Death. Get caught in your allies grenade radius? Death. This game throws you to the sharks from the word go and I’m not just talking about the ingame terrors, the games online community will also chew you up and mercilessly spit you out for the smallest mistake. You play as space marines sent to a colony on Mars that has gone silent and it is your job to get to the bottom of it while fending off a veritable horde of monstrous foes but is it worth clawing through the swarm or would you just be better off embracing the inevitable fate of death?


The Red Solstice is a real time strategy game inspired by a Starcraft 2 mod by the name of Night of the Dead, it’s easy to see the similarities, and is built around its eight player squad based gameplay. It does have a single player campaign that serves as a tutorial, unfortunately it’s rather lacklustre with a pretty generic story and it doesn’t teach you a lot of the games extensive mechanics but it at least somewhat prepares you for the unforgiving multiplayer and the developers even insist in game that you play the campaign before you play online. The single player has its own Tactical Mode that slows gameplay to a crawl and allows you to give individual orders to your squad which is a great feature that makes the campaign easier to manage.

























The online portion of the game is where the real excitement lies and it is here that you will spend most of your time with the game. You can customise and level up your own personal marine through the games great class system. There are eight classes that all offer something to a team while having a drawback that can be covered by another class, for example the Marksman can pick enemies off at a distance and works well with the Recon class who can spot enemies for them but suffer if they are swarmed at close range so they need a bodyguard to cull anything that gets close. Sadly all the classes are locked behind a level-up system which means you are stuck with the more bland ones until you grind to the ones you want to play, the game would have benefitted much more from having all the classes available from the start.


Teamwork is a big part of the game so communication is key, poor teamwork usually means a dead team so finding a good group of players is paramount for a successful game but this is also a big drawback for newer players, many of the veteran players don’t have the patience for inexperienced rookies and will happily kick you from every game or insult you for being new. This means there is a massive entry barrier that has to be overcome to enjoy the game, similar to MOBAs, so you will need to either find someone who will take you through the games deeper elements or just hope you get lucky and find some friendly players.


Once you are actually in game there is a lot to take in at first. The game plays from a top down perspective and has you traversing an unchanging map to complete the objectives that have been generated for you. These range from defending a set point to clearing an area of enemies but every game is different so you can always expect a new experience every time you play, this kind of random generation works great in a game like this since it forces you to think on your feet and adapt to anything that’s thrown your way while keeping the game fresh in repeat playthroughs.

























There are a wide range of skills available to each class that can make the difference between life and death such as the Medics healing and buff skills or the Heavy Supports ability to switch ammo types on the fly. There are two main types of ammunition you can choose from, Full Metal Jacket or Hollow Point, and each is more effective against different types of enemies so having a good mix is essential. You can also make use of a wide range of items you can find littered about the game map such as mines and satchel charges that can change the tide of a battle if used well. There is an auto-aim button that automatically pivots your marine to fire on any nearby enemies at the cost of poor accuracy and lower movement speed which is great for fighting hordes of enemies while stationary but can be a detriment if used wrong.


Graphically the game looks passable with decent enough environments that don’t obscure the gameplay and a good lighting system that ties in well with the gameplay, you are more likely to miss enemies you fire on in the dark but you can use flares and other items to generate light. The UI is great once you know where everything is but it can be daunting at first and the skill descriptions aren’t the clearest with some poor English that makes them difficult to understand, this is an unfortunate issue throughout the game. The games sound is also fairly generic with average voice acting and sound effects and an atypical sci-fi soundtrack that does its job well enough.


The Red Solstice is a great game that is unfortunately locked behind a massive entry barrier in both the games deep mechanics and its small toxic community. A game like this needs a strong community behind it to succeed but it just isn’t there so it’s difficult to recommend unless you have a group of friends to play with. The game itself is great once you learn all its intricacies and look past its generic exterior but it takes too long to “get” and is just frustrating until then.



Pros:    

Deep gameplay,

Satisfying co-op play.

   


Cons:   

Hostile community,

Poor tutorial,

Bad English throughout,
Generic visuals/sound.


Final verdict,

The Red Solstice scraps its way to a 6/10.


Written by,

Dragoon


















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