Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: Team Gotham
Publisher: Merge Games
Buy On Microsoft Store
“Solo: Islands of the Heart” asks the player to look deep within themselves and their past and present relationships and to think about what love actually means to them.
Focusing heavily on puzzling, “Solo: Islands of the Heart” is an introspective game that asks you to be completely honest with questions asked in-game about love and relationships. You start off choosing an adventurer, picking who you love no matter the gender, naming you and your lover and setting sail to islands in a vast ocean that represent sections of your mind and heart. As you complete puzzles you unlock other islands to explore and other sections of your love life to adore or lament.
The puzzles mainly consist of moving around boxes that appear in each individual section of the islands in order to unlock access to the next section of the island. While this seemed simple and novel at first, you’ll discover that this is pretty much the extent of the puzzles in the game. There are three main groups of islands or archipelago that you unlock as travel from section to section. For each section you must reach a lighthouse that then in turn shines a beacon to a totem which will ask you a personal question with multiple choice answers. After you do this it’s rinse and repeat for the remainder of the game. There are sections of contemplation and meditation as you will encounter your lover in spirit form to guide you one you mission or you can pull out your guitar and play sheet music that you’ve collected on your journey or you can just jam out for as long as you want.
The animation in-game is reminiscent of a simple version of “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker”. Things are abstract with simple shapes and lines drawing your attention. The music is somber and somewhat boring as the score seems to repeat non-stop. While most likely set like that on purpose, there is almost no change up as you unlock new levels and solve more puzzles.
While I had fun with “Solo: Islands of the Heart” and thoroughly enjoyed the introspective questions about life, love and humanity, I thought that there would have been more to the puzzling aspect of the game besides moving boxes around. Different types of boxes with unique abilities unlock throughout the game but the mechanics of moving them around, sometimes frustratingly and oftentimes repetitively distract you from the purpose of the story. There were plenty of times where I couldn’t find the right solution to continue on and I would lose the illusion of the character and not want to continue on for some time.
If you’re in the mood for some repetitive puzzling with light adventure and exploration, definitely check out “Solo: Islands of the Heart”. At times you can enjoy the escape the game provides and its introspective nature but then again you may also find yourself frustrated and bored with the lack of diversity put into the game’s puzzles.