For as long as I can remember, sci-fi has been my favorite genre. It didn't matter if it was a book, movie, video game, or even an experimental off-Broadway production – I'd want to check it out. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to complete the Fort Solis review for TechRaptor.
It was exciting to dive deeper into what this game is really about, having only been previously teased with surface-level gameplay at PAX East 2023.
Fort Solis is an expertly crafted game that leans heavily on the spectacle of Unreal Engine 5 and the game's impressive voice cast that includes Roger Clark, Julia Brown, and Troy Baker. Fort Solis is a thrilling, anxiety-inducing experience that any fan of good sci-fi will definitely want to check out.
It's not without its faults, though. Fort Solis is intentionally designed to be a slow burn, adversely affecting the momentum at times and making elements like exploring more frustrating than they need to be. But that doesn't mean there aren't payoffs; the character moments and horror elements created by the team at Fallen Leaf Studio are to be admired.
Read my full thoughts in the Fort Solis review below.
Fort Solis Is a Testament to What Modern Games Can Look Like
Built from the ground up on Unreal Engine 5, Fort Solis both looks impressive and runs incredibly smoothly on PS5. Like most PS5 games, there were Quality and Performance graphics options.
I split my total playtime between each mode pretty evenly, and the nice thing is that Performance mode gives players a fast framerate while still rendering a hugely impressive experience.
That being said, Fort Solis in Quality mode is my personal recommendation. This isn't a competitive shooter that requires frame-specific reflexes – much of the gameplay is investigating the mystery surrounding why Fort Solis is abandoned, and trying to figure out what happened to the workers there.
Whether you're walking against the winds on the surface of Mars or inspecting the vibrant plant life in the greenhouse, the lighting and fidelity are unmatched in Quality, showcasing a gorgeous 4K picture that reminded me why I bought a PS5 in the first place.
And that's one of the most encouraging things I saw during my time playing for the Fort Solis review: we're in the early stages of Unreal Engine 5, and this makes me so excited for what studios will be able to achieve when games are built from the ground up and not held back by last-gen performance restraints.
Graphical fidelity aside, Fort Solis would be nothing without a great story, and thankfully in that department, it delivers.
You Need to Love the Fort Solis Story
Though the game looks amazing, the Fort Solis gameplay leaves something to be desired. This is definitely not an experience for those looking to "play" a game, but rather reserved for sci-fi horror fans who want to experience a great story.
I went into my Fort Solis review with the mindset of it being a narrative-driven miniseries. I played for about an hour a night over the course of four nights, the mysteries drawing me back to figure out why there were no survivors in the Fort Solis mining colony.
Fort Solis is intended to be a slow burn, to the point where your character has one walking speed throughout the entire game. This works well to build suspense in key moments but can get a bit tiresome when trying to explore or fully investigate some of the larger areas.
There were several times during my playthrough where I would spend a long time walking to a far corner, only to discover there was nothing there and then need to walk all the way back.
The walking is very much an intended effect, and complaining about it kind of feels like complaining that there's too much sailing in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, but certain moments could have been punched up if the speed increased.
The nice thing about the slow-paced gameplay, though, is that you can take your time processing every story beat as it happens. The Fort Solis story gives the player the option of how much they want to experience.
There are countless audio and video logs to pick up, as well as computer terminals you can interact with to deactivate security systems and learn more about the other characters. As for the characters themselves, that's a huge highlight of what makes Fort Solis great.
Applause for the Fort Solis Voice Cast
The main Fort Solis voice cast is rounded out with Roger Clark, Julia Brown, and Troy Baker. All do an amazing job, but Julia Brown steals the show with her character Jessica Appleton who helps keep our primary protagonist, Jack Leary (voiced by Roger Clark), grounded via radio communication.
The relationship feels similar to Henry and Delilah in Firewatch, and much of the character development relies on the vocal performances provided by the actors. Fort Solis would not succeed at its core if the actors weren't able to make you care about these characters.
Once I was invested, I was able to mostly let go of the frustrations felt during the slower-paced areas. I wanted to not only learn more about these characters, but help them reach their destination. Fort Solis is filled with unexpected threats, and the storm raging outside the colony makes an evac all but impossible.
So the characters have to be represented strongly to make this story worth experiencing.
The Fort Solis voice cast perfectly expresses fear, excitement, sarcasm, anger, hope, and every emotion in between. For an interactive story that plays out episodically over the course of about four hours, Fort Solis immerses you immediately with the characters who are alone on Mars in the year 2080.
Other design elements like the lack of a HUD make things even more immersive, helping you fully step into the shoes of your character.
For a third-person mystery thriller, Fort Solis delivers on telling a tightly written story that's compounded by the short playthrough time, allowing easy access for those who wish to complete the game multiple times.
Fort Solis Review | Final Thoughts
Fort Solis is a slow-paced sci-fi adventure that brings Mars to life in amazing detail. The slow and borderline boring moments are made up for by the top-notch talent of the voice cast and the engaging story.
Whether you want to push through this game in a single evening or save it for shorter sessions, it's hard to not be impressed by the technical hurdles Fort Solis is clearing.
As I process what can only be described as a hectic and emotional finale, the thematic elements of Fort Solis have stayed with me and reignited excitement for what the future of gaming holds on PlayStation 5, as well as other consoles and PC.
If Fort Solis is an indication of what's to come, it's a great litmus test for what a game can be when all the right elements come together.
Fort Solis was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 over the course of 5 hours with a copy provided by the developer - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Fantastic voice cast
- Beautiful art direction
- Strong story
- Very slow-paced at times
- Lack of rewards for exploring
- Minimal gameplay outside of walking