Solar Ash Review (PS5) – Solar Ash, by Heart Machine, is another unique indie experience. Hyper Light Drifter is one of my favourite indies ever (minus that stupid dash Trophy) and I had high hopes for this title. It still has the same brash art style and looks to be just as technologically eerie.
You play as Rei, a Voidwalker who has been called in to find a crew of missing Voidwalkers. Your planet is being sucked into the void and you must, alone, activate the Starseed, save your colleagues and hopefully help a few uncanny characters you meet on the way.
Solar Ash (PS5) – Sweet, Sweet, Techno-Parkour
Bright, Bold and Beautiful
Solar Ash smashes you in the face with its unique art style. Comparable to Hyper Light Drifter, there are massive contrasts between its bright pinks, its pitch blacks and it looks astounding. More on that later. After you get over all the eye porn, you are left with a game I can only describe as Jet Set Radio with a bit of a Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus-like flavour. I know, it sounds amazing, right?
Let me unravel that for you, each area you reach, you must clear a number of ooze covered areas to enable the massive, rideable boss to be taken tackled. These bosses are called Revenants and are very Shadow of the Colossus-like. Massive hulking bosses must be traversed across and parts of them attacked to bring them down. Most of the time in mid-air and on a timer. Good times!
Clearing each of these zones requires you to skate, parkour, jump and attack certain points in a ballet-like combo. Each one is a mini-puzzle, an assault course of sorts that you must use timing and platforming skills to overcome. It’s certainly a novel mix of genres that blend together well. You are rushing around, slicing enemies, clearing ooze and downing massive bosses. It’s all rather simplistic, yet extremely pleasant.
There are upgrades to unlock, suits to collect and a few side stories to ponder over. There are side-tracks, secrets and routes off the main path that often reward you with goodies or more likely some hard sought after upgrade materials. I always enjoyed exploring as it was always fluid, fun and often required some sweet, sweet moves to reach your intended destination.
A World Like Nothing Else Currently on The PlayStation 5
The world-building and style that oozes through every pore of this game are gorgeous. It’s technological, it’s ancient and ever so stylish. It feels alien, it looks so sharp and throws neon flashes into your eyes at every turn. I especially love the transition effect between scenes as bright goo oozes over your screen; it’s a small thing but it fits the feel and style of the game perfectly. Solar Ash is an elegant mesh of technology and life.
Graphically, as with Hyper Light Drifter, I adore this style. From the way the screen turns black and white when you inevitably take down one of the game’s many Revenants to the way the clouds and enemies are neon blue and pink. Everything in this game is stark, bright and unlike anything about right now. Solar Ash is a sight to behold.
On the sound front, I thought Solar Ash did a good job of grounding you in its sci-fi world. Eerie music and some decent robotic voice work keep you invested and amplify what was already a decent portrayal of a futuristic, broken universe. I would have perhaps liked a more impactful and memorable soundtrack but what we have does feel apt and fits the subject matter perfectly.
I played Solar Ash on the PS5 but it is also available on PS4. While Solar Ash is not overflowing with PS5-specific features, I did notice the haptics, even though it’s nuanced. Loading was also fairly quick, the Trophy cards work well, but I just think more could have been made of both the haptics and adaptive triggers. Solar Ash’s performed excellently, was bug and error-free, with no issues to speak of.
An Entertaining, If Simplistic Adventure
Solar Ash is beautiful, quite unique and ultimately, entertaining. Granted, it could be a bit more varied here and there but for a game of this length just has enough to keep you interested to the end. There are things outside of the main quest to seek out and some of the platforming and parkour challenges are tricky enough to keep things form getting bland.
While Solar Ash does not, for me anyway, hit the lofty heights of Hyper Light Drifter, it is a game I enjoyed playing. It feels different and that does not come around that often these days. I have a few more collectables and bits to finish off and I am looking forward to doing so. If you want to play something that’s both unique and beautiful, this may be your jam.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.