A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The protagonist, Rei, is doggedly trying to save her planet but ignores all the signs around her that her efforts prolong the inevitable. Solar Ash is about trusting your eyes and your friends to accept that events are outside of your control. Rather than pulling everyone down with a sinking ship, it's best to abandon your pride and sail onward to new horizons. There's also an environmentally conscious message embedded throughout the story expressing the importance of addressing issues like pollution and natural disasters before windows of opportunity close to make decisive actions.
Positive Role Models
Rei herself starts out with noble intentions and cares about others, but she gradually adopts an obsessive mindset by stubbornly sticking to her original goals rather than accepting the reality and changing context of her situation. But she learns that humility and sacrifice are important, and that good intentions must always be reevaluated. Other characters exhibit a mix of honorable traits, like a respect for nature and care of others, alongside problematic ones, like cowardice and deceit.
All of the characters are of alien and anthropomorphic races, but there's an even representation of both men and women among the cast.
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Ease of Play
Solar Ash isn't an elaborate combat game. It's all about a simple set of movements with quick, precise platforming in 3D environments as players skate, boost, and jump to and fro. The controls can be quickly learned. Despite their overall fluidity and tightness, there are unexpected, annoying moments where the player's character will slip off platforms or have unexpected momentum that requires preparation to respond to, which is only gained over time.
Violence & Scariness
The antagonist is an ethereal ghost with a giant needle pierced through her chest. She also has segmented, floating body parts that flow with blood. There's one section with groups of an alien race that players are tasked to search out, but all of them die in horrific ways, such as being crushed beneath giant objects, or severed arms and legs strewn about the ground. But these gory and bloody visuals are highly stylized with a vibrant, cel-shaded art style. The majority of the violence is very tame.
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"Bastard" is said twice, and "Hell" is said once.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Solar Ash is a downloadable 3D platformer for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Windows (exclusively on the Epic Games Store). It follows the desperate mission of Rei, a Voidrunner tasked with activating a device designed to destroy a black hole that's slowly dragging her home planet toward destruction. Her friends who were supposed to have fulfilled the mission have gone radio silent, so it's up to her to discover what happened to them and whether or not she can still save everyone. As players explore the hauntingly gorgeous and strange ruins of the world, they will encounter colossal infestations and monsters made of bone plating and black ooze, which must be destroyed by racing across their forms while attacking a series of weak points in quick succession before time runs out. Exploration is the name of the game with expansive environments that encourage thorough investigation, as well as interaction with other characters, audio and text logs. There's some graphic yet cartoonish gore present in a couple areas, as well as some mild language with "bastard" and "hell" used no more than a few times.
Is It Any Good?
This 3D action title features exploration and exchanges combat for platforming, but its repetitive and simplistic play holds it back. In Solar Ash, players glide across the ground and in cloud-like oceans with futuristic skates to complete a slew of obstacle courses and races against time. The controls are simple, and gameplay feels slick and tight, but there's an undeniable slipperiness and unpredictability to movement that rears its ugly head with frequent frustrating falls. On top of this, the game never adds any new mechanics to the initial moves, and starts to feel the same from beginning to end. While it's understandable that combat isn't the focus, the presence of enemies feels arbitrary since they're basically pests with singular attacks rather than fun, challenging foes to fight. The level design introduces foils to navigation with guard rails to grind on, and poisoned floors that must be sped across quickly, but they don't alter the core gameplay in any meaningful or exciting ways.
Exploration is the most engaging aspect of Solar Ash. Players will search out the Remnants in a large open world divided into several locations. Since there are audio logs to collect that unlock new outfits with passive bonus effects, players will find it hard to resist these optional objectives that unveil more storytelling and goodies to collect. At its heart, Solar Ash is a deeply personal project with excellent voice performances that prompts reflection on how to accept tragedy when it comes, and finding the right ways to press on from those experiences instead of fixating on things that cannot be changed. It's greatly helped by how beautiful its environments are complemented with a soundtrack of electronic and ambient tracks that make Solar Ash an artistic and musical treat. But in the end, Solar Ash is polished and pretty, but could have been so much more if its levels and gameplay were more complex.
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