Fast-paced 3D platforming seems to be an emerging genre and the action-packed Solar Ash proves that this concoction has promise.
│ A.J. has been obsessively gaming since the late '80s and is just as passionate about video games in 2022. 🐻
Last year, I played and thoroughly enjoyed The Pathless which was also published by Annapurna Interactive. When I started playing Solar Ash, I noticed similarities almost instantly as both games have a focus on fast-paced movement within vast environments. That being said, they are very different experiences as The Pathless features substantial variety with its stealth-based bosses and Solar Ash; well, it's kind of a one-trick pony. Now, that isn't necessarily a bad thing because what it does, it does exceptionally well. v1d30chumz 18-232-56-9
Specifically, Solar Ash is a game all about speed as many of its scenarios and bosses require you to reach certain points to extend a timer before the floor becomes lava. It's odd that this mechanic is used in both the platforming segments and boss fights as the 2 tend to blend together gameplay-wise but it's a blast nonetheless. To make the gameplay feel a bit more varied, you'll face an assortment of regular enemies that can be quite relentless and the trick to beating them is to outsmart them then dispatch them as soon as possible. For example, enemies that extend dangerous vines across the ground are best slain by leaping into the air then dashing towards them while homing laser turrets force you to hide behind barriers until you can reach it for a final blow. It's all satisfying stuff. 😊
The fact that you're constantly being pushed forward whether you're dealing with enemies, fighting a boss, or platforming makes Solar Ash an exhilarating experience. Meanwhile, the core gameplay loop is easy to understand as you essentially track down a handful of points within a stage and upon destroying them all, the boss will emerge. Fighting bosses is simple as you merely scale their bodies and move between points as quickly as possible in the hopes of attacking its weak point without taking damage along the way. You do this a few times for each boss and every iteration is trickier than the one before so it really forces you to hone your skills thus resulting in a rewarding and challenging formula. Once you finally see a boss bite the dust and discover the next stage; it feels awesome! 😄
As you can tell, Solar Ash boasts impressively stylish graphics that feature lovely hues and striking locales. In fact, I found simply dashing along the surface of water to be rather mesmerizing, especially considering the fact that gravity plays an interesting role while the water creates large bubble-like surfaces with its waves. Elements like this make exploring stages a treat and when you factor in hidden secrets and optional NPC quests, there are even more reasons to explore the distinct environments between action-intense segments.
I mentioned that Solar Ash is a bit of a one-trick pony and it's true. Aside from exploring a bit, the core gameplay merely involves running, dashing, and grappling to points as quickly as possible and although it's thrilling, it still becomes quite repetitive thus making the overall campaign become stale sooner than you'd hope. Speaking of which, it's a rather short campaign, too, and there's even a trophy for finishing it within 3 hours. 🏆 Last but not least, the camera can sometimes be a pain such as when you're on a boss that wriggles around and obscures the path ahead with its body. Considering you're already frantically tapping face buttons, it can be challenging to find a split second when you can adjust the camera. So, you'll likely end up taking damage as you accidentally miss a jump or take too long.
Solar Ash does fast-paced platforming brilliantly and it features a super-exciting formula to boot. At the same time, that's really all it has going for it so with some much-needed additional variety, it could have been an even greater experience.
- + Lightning-fast 3D platforming pushes you to keep skillfully moving
- + Stylish graphics with mesmerizing locales
- + Satisfying bosses / nifty optional content
- - Gameplay loop gets rather stale about halfway through the journey
- - Campaign is fairly short
- - Camera can be annoying at times