Red Solstice 2 shares tension similar to the waves of enemies encountered in the tower defense genre, but blends in objective-based shooting systems and layers of strategic management to survive. Being one of the few survivors of a recent tragedy on a unit of marines, your job is to secure individuals that have strong enough mental fortitude to fight off the trudging monsters in a variety of different scapes.
As a newcomer to this series, I’ve found a few bumps that could be smoothed over before release, but there’s plenty of room for co-op fun in this hectic action title.
During Red Solstice 2, combat takes the form of a birds-eye view sprawl above a dungeon of celled areas. Your main weapon shoots at a rapid-fire pace, with ammo littered along the ground, among other key items. Often, you will be accompanied by other characters who have their own health and need to be protected accordingly. The most tumultuous aspect is the tower defense sections, where waves of vulgar behemoths who wash upon your thinly protected barricades.
These portions provided classic resource management that isn’t normally present in shooter story campaigns. Your allies pack a punch but don’t do well in close combat. As such, much of the success is directly in your hands to secure correct spacing and skill activation timing. The class system is the pinnacle of Solstice’s strategy. Upon gaining more experience, you unlock specialized roles such as Recon or Medic. Combined with the equipable skills, there is a surprising amount of customizability involved for a shooting game, where you wouldn’t normally have enough options to make a “build.” Unfortunately, like with the mission objectives, this aspect of the game is not described in depth to the player.
The steps taken to this end are laced with poor planning. The tutorial drags you from room to room, asking you to press a button to perform an action, often without showing the practical application. Ironically, despite the hand-holding introduction, many commands are unintuitive enough to be easily forgotten, such as Command + Key actions. There aren’t any safe places to practice these advanced maneuvers, making trial and error an unfortunate first impression of what should be an easing process.
While the more complicated strategies take a while to get used to, the basic shooting is easy to control. You can either auto-shoot at enemies within your range or hold select and press left for manual. The swivel of the aim is pleasant to control, and shots inflict enough damage to be empowering.
While the story tends to be unimportant when it mostly functions as the instrument to delivering hectic shooter gameplay, Red Solstice 2’s premise attains a noticeable level of apathetic plot development. Details regarding how exactly the marines were defeated are left to the imagination, and picking up new characters tend to have the same “find and rescue” mission attached. Moreover, these characters have aggravatingly cliche one-liners that sum up their traits. One such character is Lyna Todd, who proclaims her affection for the general, and continuously does so while in the middle of combat.
These little trip-ups extend to the menus and narration. Navigating through maps is an exercise in experimentation, which is odd considering the numerous explanation tabs during a mission. One amusing example is a prompt to destroy an entire colony with a massive laser.
The menu informs you of the negative consequences of doing so, such as the loss of life at the cost of destroying the infested area, but does not give you a visible option to refuse. Another such oddity is the beginning narration not lining up with the subtitles. These little things are not related to the gameplay but negatively impact early impressions.
Red Solstice 2 blends tower defense strategy into satisfying shooter gameplay successfully. While the polymer of two genres suggests mastery, the execution of its early gameplay loop is anything but first-rate. Despite its constant instructing, Red Solstice 2 does not efficiently lead the player into a smooth experience.
We’re looking forward to discovering how this game evolves in the later missions when it releases on PC-via Steam on June 17, 2021.
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