Sol Cresta Review – A Classic Shmup for the Modern Gamer
Title: Sol Cresta
Release Date: February 22, 2022
Reviewed On: PS4
I’m always excited when I see a new shmup on the market but attach developer PlatinumGames to it, and I’m there on day one. Sol Cresta is the latest title from the team, and they are genuinely adapting the old-school arcade shooter experience for this challenging adventure. The outcome is a fun, addictive, and challenging adventure that’s a little rough around the edges.
Sol Cresta opens with a text crawl to tell the story of this shmup. It’s an interesting look at just how much lore was put into this game’s story. This attempts to place the player in the action, but it is unnecessary for the experience. However, Cresta series fans might appreciate the walk down memory lane as we are caught up to speed with the history this series carries. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it either because it was very niche, even in the 80s. But who cares, we’re playing it today, and that’s all that matters, so skip the story if you want and jump into the action.
Sol Cresta wants to be old school. PlatinumGames seem to have done everything to provide this retro experience to modern players. However, this game has many moving parts and a lack of tutorials. I feel the game’s opening chapters are hurt because players don’t know what they have access to in terms of abilities. You’ll start picking up these strange shapes and wonder what the heck they even do; the next thing you know, you’re looking at a Game Over screen because you lack the knowledge to stay alive.
I’ll do my best to alleviate some pain points, but I’m sure you’ll still encounter issues. The shapes are used when you’ve collected all three ships, rad, yellow, and blue. Players can slow down time to create a shape, which then executes a unique ability.
Be aware that forming the shape is a little challenging, but you get used to it quickly. There’s also the added fact that you can only use a particular shape after you’ve collected it, and these are reset between each level. Once you get the hang of what these shapes actually do, you can use them in interesting ways during a fight; you can also use the slow down feature to survive some bullets.
On top of the formations, players have access to a rapid shot and a charge shot used by the primary and secondary ship. However, again the game never explains this; you just have to figure it out. If that wasn’t enough, you also have to figure out how to switch between ships, which is needed in later stages to get through color-coded areas and destroy colored boxes. Also, points heavily matter and will steadily provide bonuses throughout the level. This is all information I wish I had known before I played.
Sol Cresta offers some challenging gameplay and unlockable harder modes like any shmup. You’ll need to play through Normal to unlock higher options, but that’s probably for the best because you’ll have no idea what you’re doing. This game can’t be played like a traditional shmup, and that’s what makes it so damn exciting.
There’s more to do besides dodge enemies and bullets, as you’re constantly considering the best time to use your charge attacks or get in formation. Hopefully, after a few runs, you will have become used to the controls because you won’t be having fun otherwise.
There’s a Story Mode available that is impossible to enjoy because it’s going on while you’re playing, and the audio is in Japanese. I could never take my eyes off the action to see what they were saying, but their character illustrations looked great.
However, the UI can be overwhelming, even though the game is quite simple to understand once you’ve taught yourself how to play it. Each level is exceedingly challenging, with bosses returning with added upgrades, so it feels as if you’ve created real rivalries. Sure, I got frustrated after each death, mainly because you’re revived with 0 shields, so good luck lasting a second if you spawn into a bosses’ line of fire, but I couldn’t help but want to keep playing.
Sol Cresta is a retro shmup for the modern gamer. It excels at everything it wants to provide to players and more, but sadly it doesn’t teach them how to access it. However, once I figured out how to actually play, I found it to be one of the best shmups in recent times. It forgoes the familiar aspect of the genre and instead aims to shake things up by introducing unique systems. I didn’t want to stop playing, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.
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