Close to the Sun is a first-person survival-horror and very much a story-driven game, with some puzzle elements included. It is developed by Storm in a Teacup and published by Wired Productions and was initially released in May 2019. This game flew well under my radar but I’m glad it crossed my path because it was very enjoyable. Close to the Sun is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo Switch.
Close to the Sun is set in an alternate reality in 1897. You play as a young journalist named Rose who has set out to rescue her sister after receiving a letter asking for help. Her sister is aboard a ship called the Helios which is the brainchild of famed inventor Nikola Tesla who created the Helios as a place to complete his work, continue his research and ultimately spread his work across the world before anyone else could. The Helios was inhabited by hundreds of renowned scientists and inventors all working together to bring Tesla’s ideas to life. Throughout the game you find pieces of lore scattered around the levels indicating that well known scientists such as Albert Einstein were aboard the Helios. This concept that the game was based around real and very prominent people from the science world but in an alternate reality was really interesting to me because its not something I’ve really experienced before from a game nor something that I ever expected to play. My science knowledge is minimal and my knowledge of the people behind these discoveries and the inventors themselves is very minimal. I was streaming Close to the Sun and some community members in chat were actually giving me a little bit of an education in the real history of these people and it really helped bring the story even more to life for me but I don’t want to say too much more about the story because I think there’s a lot to discover and I should leave that to you to discover!
The entirety of the game takes place in and around the Helios which, as you can expect, being created by Nikola Tesla, was an impressive piece of work with an entire theatre, a railway system alongside top of the line laboratories to house all the research they were carrying out.
Graphically, this made for an absolutely stunning backdrop for Close to the Sun. The visuals throughout were very reminiscent of the Bioshock games with the steampunk style. The creepy dark corridors and destroyed areas of the ship never failed to provide ample space for jumpscares and the odd bit of gore here and there. There wasn’t a huge amount of jumpscares but the ones that were there were fantastic and actually got me because I wasn’t expecting them. One thing I would say is I’d recommend a trigger warning for topics such as suicide as in one scene there was a person who had hanged themselves and because I was streaming I opted to turn away from this immediately in case it upset anyone. However, I know this is a common theme in horror games but I feel its worth noting.
The general gameplay of Close to the Sun at times felt a little bit shallow in the sense that I was just going from place to place, finding the key to open whatever door, and picking up collectables along the way. I also found the puzzles a bit lacking as well. For a game based around some of the greatest scientists the world has seen, I was hoping for a little more creativity from the puzzles, however this is probably one of my biggest critiques of the game overall. Despite this though, I do feel like the focus of the game wasn’t the puzzles, or the jumpscares but it was the story itself and everything gameplay wise only existed to serve the story. I did feel the story began to feel a little bit rushed towards the end as though the writers felt they were running out of time to explain more and the story felt like it suddenly ended with some things being left vague and unexplained. Having enjoyed the story as much as I did, I had a lot of questions that I feel could easily have been answered with an extra hour of gameplay or even some additional letters of lore spotted around the place.
Close to the Sun was a good game - graphically it impressed me and I really enjoyed the storyline. Yes there were areas where it could have been improved but overall I had a great time. It took me just over four hours to complete but at the end of it I didn’t feel like I’d wasted the time. I had enjoyed my visit aboard the Helios and would recommend it for anyone looking for a story that is something totally unexpected and out of the ordinary. There’s still a huge amount of story that I have left unmentioned in this review because I’m trying to keep it spoiler free as I do believe this game is worth picking up and experiencing for yourself because the story really is great and it also opens doors to some pretty deep and interesting conversations about science, the possibilities out there, and the effects of such advancements being made.
Lj’s Rating: 3.5 super brains out of 5.
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