Have you ever wondered what your beliefs are in regards to relationships? Maybe you are with a significant other, or single, or in a polyamorous relationship. No matter what your situation is, you may learn something about yourself when you play Solo: Islands of the Heart.
Solo is a creative puzzle game that is all about love. It’s also an exploration game; as in, the game encourages you to explore your relationships as well as the dream-like worlds the game is set to. After all, love (or its opposite, hate) is what drives relationships, and the universal truth is that we all experience it in different ways.
In the beginning, you are given choices in Solo: Are you a dude whose significant other is a lady? Or are you a dude who is into another dude, or maybe a lady into another lady? No matter what your choice is, you’ll start off in your own island in which you will have to sail to a linear path of three islands in order to discover yourself and the world.
The three islands are actually archipelagos (i.e., a cluster of islands), but you originally will not notice that as only the tiniest sliver of the island is afloat. In order to open up the archipelago, you must speak to these totems, but they are all in hard-to-reach places. This is where the platform puzzle aspect of Solo is about. There are boxes you will have to use in order to reach higher ground. In the first archipelago, the puzzles are easy, and you will only need one type of box to progress. However, reaching the totems in later archipelagos will be tricky, and you are given other boxes and tools to progress.
The other boxes in the world of Solo are ones with fans that spew out air, ones that stick to walls and other boxes, ones that have planks that extend in a certain direction, and ones for watering plants (used during special sections of the game). You can’t jump in this game, by the way, so in order for you to theoretically jump, you are given a parachute to use with the boxes with fans. The other tool you will be using a lot is the wand. Its special ability is to pick up any box no matter how far away and place them wherever you wish.
You are given a mix of these boxes in each section of the game. That means that there’s really no right way to go about reaching the totems. You can get as creative as you want, as long as you follow the box physics and well, if the camera angles play nice with you. The frustrating portion of Solo is that although you are given 360-degree control of the camera, using the wand to place boxes can be somewhat finicky. This is especially true when you get to using the sticky boxes and placing other boxes to stick to it.
If you are able to reach the totems, however, you are given a question and three possible answers in which you choose the one you relate to the most. These questions are about your attitude towards your partner be it may be about spending time with them, lying to them, to even having sexual relations with them. No matter what you choose though, it always opens up more of the archipelago that you are on where you’ll have to again reach the next totem for the next question and section to open up. Solo is a very linear game, but your answers to the totems are what changes the outcome at the end of the journey. That’s because, after finishing the third archipelago, you are given a dialogue that may or may not open your eyes about your attitude towards love which depends on how you answered the totems. It’s almost as if you took one of those quizzes on Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica analyzed it and spat out your results.
To be honest, I get the concept, but the execution’s just lacking. Why do I have to spend two to four hours climbing to reach these totems to answer questions about love just to get a dialogue that I may or may not relate to? Wouldn’t it be easier to just answer these questions and share to 20 friends? While Solo features some easy puzzle platforming action, it ultimately is up to you if it’s worth the time to explore your attitudes about love.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Reach the Totems, Answer Their Questions, and Your Results about Love Will Come
Solo: Islands of the Heart - 6/10
+Does not discriminate about love
+Many ways to solve puzzles
-Camera angles can be finicky
-Execution for a personality quiz not good