Title: Close to the Sun
Developer: Storm in a Teacup
Publisher: Wired Productions
Genre: First person, Single player, story-driven, suspenseful, art deco, horror, adventure, action.
Platform: PC – Epic Games Store
Release Date: Out Now – 02/05/19
Price: £24.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
It’s 1897. Deep in international waters, the Helios stands still. Dark clouds loom overhead as unforgiving waves crash against the hull. Colossal effigies of gold, decorated with magnificent finery, stretch as far as the eye can see.
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.
Journalist Rose Archer steps aboard the Helios in search of her sister Ada. She quickly discovers not all is as it seems. Grand halls stand empty. The stench of rotting flesh lingers in the air. Silence. A single word is painted across the entrance… QUARANTINE!
First-person horror adventure where surviving is everything
Problem-solving in order to progress the story: just what happened on board Tesla’s ship?
Danger aplenty as Rose pieces together just what happened, having no real means to defend herself
Teamwork with an ally who helps Rose navigate her way through the ship’s artistic halls
Nerve inducing exploration – defenceless and weaponless, the keys to Rose’s survival are running, hiding, and quick thinking
Explore a visually stunning environment Built in Unreal Engine™ 4.
“The present is theirs; the future is mine.”
– Nikola Tesla
I was intrigued about Close to the Sun from the very first time that I saw the trailer and the original concept art. The comparisons with Bioshock, which can never be a bad thing, are many. The ocean setting, the art deco style, the communication via radio and the scientific element of the story. However, this is where the comparisons stop. Close to the Sun is a game that deserves its own identity and will offer a different experience to Bioshock. Read on to find out about my time aboard the Helios.
Audio & Visual
Visually, Close to the Sun is striking. When you first board the Helios, you will be taken aback by the sheer size of the ship and its art-deco inspired design. There is a real juxtaposition between the obvious recent splendour and destruction throughout the vessel.
Built using Unreal Engine 4, the game is graphically impressive, especially the lighting which again does an excellent job of adding to the eerie atmosphere of the game.
Regarding audio, the game sound effects are what you would expect from this genre of game – footsteps echo as you move around the ship. The in-game music comprises mostly of haunting piano tunes. A strength of the game is the voice acting which is essential as most of the story is told by speech. Australian folktronica act, Porcelain Pill performs the Official Single.
Gameplay and Replayability
The story is told through a series of radio conversations. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say who with. However, this is the way that the story is told. You do eventually encounter the people you have been talking to. As you make your way through the ship, you have to solve different puzzles. Most of the time, these are a case of merely flicking switches and are quite simple to solve. There are, however, a couple of puzzles that are a little more taxing.
Close to the Sun is a unique title in many ways in that there’s no fighting or shooting of any sort. The action takes place in terms of set pieces in which you have to find a way to escape. Usually, the means of escape are in a linear manner. However, there are times when your path to safety might require more thought.
When confronted by a situation that you have to run away from, of which there are many, the mechanics are great. You can switch to a camera view that shows your assailant chasing after you. This kicks the tension into a higher gear and as the game is a horror title, it gives a feeling of claustrophobia.
There are 10 Chapters to work your way through, and depending on how much exploring you do, it should take you around 7 hours to complete. Within each Chapter, there are many secrets and collectables to find. Therefore, completionists will have reason to return to the ship. However, any shocks or moments of suspense will not have the same impact as the first time you’ll experience it.
For some people, not being able to fight or shoot guns might come as a bit of a disappointment. For me, it was a welcome break not having to worry about inventories and ammo. Close to the Sun is a memorable experience. I enjoyed exploring the Helios and discovering the secrets of the ship. The mix of history, science and a future in which Tesla’s great mind has been used to create dangerous machines, is intriguing.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Close to the Sun from the Epic Games Store on the following link, https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/close-to-the-sun/home