Title: Close to the Sun
Developer: Storm in a Teacup
Publisher: Wired Productions
Genre: Adventure, Indie
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 29/10/19
Price: £24.99 – Rapid Reviews were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
The ‘Sun’ that got away…
Releasing simultaneously on the holy trinity of home consoles on October 29th could have seen Close to the Sun Developers, Storm in a Teacup, propelled to relative stardom. Quite uncommon for a game to release on Nintendo Switch alongside its counterparts, it often represents an opportunity to garner respect from fans just for attempting it. Unfortunately, visual and performance issues stop this one in its tracks, and it becomes difficult to recommend as a result.
Born of Nikola Tesla’s vision, the Helios serves as a haven for the greatest scientific minds. An unbound utopia for research, independent from state and isolated from the gaze of society. Free to push the boundaries of matter and time.
Set in 1897, Close to the Sun places you in control of Rose Archer, a journalist who boards the Helios in search of her sister, Ada. After emerging from the opening room into the grand corridors and large open spaces, it takes approximately two minutes to identify that there are issues afoot, and this once vibrant and busy hub of ingenuity is no more.
A mystery, horror adventure not unlike Layers of Fear and the Observer, you travel around the Helios in search of clues as to what has occurred. Bodies lay strewn on the floor, and the silence that echoes around each room is distributing. The clues often take the form of documents, newspaper clippings, and key events which showcase themselves as hallucinations. You receive direction from characters who regularly speak over an intercom, and making your way to a destination often involves a puzzle or two to overcome.
Atmospheric in only the way that jump scares can be, Close to the Sun is shrouded in mystery and unnerving action. With no means to protect yourself, you manoeuvre around the once-great shop, safe in the knowledge that you can never truly be at ease. That being said, at worst, you are a ‘run in the opposite direction on a predetermined route away’ from avoiding trouble. This was somewhat disappointing, as I was never really that invested – the checkpoint is only ever as far away as the encounter itself.
The music is good and serves to try and keep that immersion alive, but it doesn’t do enough to detract from the overwhelming sense that this game was not developed with the Switch in mind. Feeling like somewhat of an afterthought, performance issues plague this experience in ways I am yet to experience on a Nintendo Switch console. The framerate often dips below what we have come to expect on the Switch, and the graphical quality proves challenging to define, with fleeting glimpses of brilliance overshadowed by a strange shimmer which is sore on the eyes. Up close, things are sometimes crisp and clear, and other times they are blurred and hard to read. In all, it proved a difficult game to want to return to, even though the setting itself and the comprehensive knowledge that could be obtained was inviting.
Offering a tried and tested approach to a mystery adventure, you have a lot to uncover and explore across the five or so hours it takes to complete. The story is interesting, if a little predictable in parts, and the character acting sets the scene relatively well. It has a feel to it of the Bioshock series, without ever achieving the same quality outcomes.
The ‘Sun’ that got away
Close to the Sun is a game that many will want to like, but it’s predictable nature, simple puzzles and disappointing performance issues make it difficult to do so. Performance issues aside, there is enough here to warrant adding it to the collection, but perhaps not on the Nintendo Switch.
So close, yet so far…
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Close to the Sun from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Close-to-the-Sun-1627784.html