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Close To The Sun

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 13 - 2019

Further proof that scientists shouldn’t be grouped together in enclosed spaces.

From the pre-release promotional material, Storm in a Teacup’s Close to the Sun looked set to be a BioShock clone, which would be no bad thing as heading back to Rapture once more would be a real joy. Now that Close to the Sun has released exclusively on the Epic Game Store, which we won’t harp on about, it is easy to see that there are plenty of differences between the two game. However, some things seem familiar…

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In Close to the Sun, players take on the role of Rose, a journalist who is invited to the Helios by her sister. The Helios is a ship created by Nikola Tesla as a self-contained community for scientists that was independent of interfering governments. Yeah, does have a familiar vibe to it. Anyway, Rose is going to visit her sister who works on the Helios, but on arrival it quickly becomes obvious that something is very wrong.

While players will come across a nice selection of different characters in Close to the Sun, it is the Helios itself that is perhaps the most impressive. This massive ship, a self-contained city of sorts, has a personality that will drive the player forward in the adventure, with some of the most stunning environments to be found in video games. The Art Deco style combined with the sense of dread that depicts itself with the likes of random messages scrawled on walls, all brings around that familiar BioShock feeling. There are even some similar areas of the ship that the player will investigate. Propaganda can be found all around the ship, promoting this scientific community, and players will find plenty of reading material to fill in the back story of the Helios and make the ship come alive.

The visuals are pretty impressive and make sense of the huge download size. The areas are varied and exciting to explore, and the excellent lighting gives the whole place an atmosphere of something that was once all about scientific discovery, until things went wrong. Visually, Close to the Sun is a great looking game and many players will be drawn in simply by how good it looks.

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Problem is, many other aspects of the game feel subdued in comparison. The story, in which the player looks for Rose’s sister and tries to find out what happened on the Helios, is certainly interesting, but if feels somewhat unfinished, leaving far too many questions for the player. It also doesn’t run for long enough, clocking in around six hours of play time. Also, Close to the Sun classes itself as a story-driven horror game, but the horror aspect is fairly minimal. Sure, there is a tension to exploring the ship that will set the player on edge, and there are the occasional jump scare to unsettle the player, but in all it felt very mild.

Aside from exploring the ship, much of the players time will be spent solving the puzzles that prevent them from progressing. The puzzles do lean on the easy side for the most part, with many of them involving activating switches or finding codes to activate switches. Generally, the solutions are easy to find, and often close by, and many players will have the solution before they even reach the puzzle. Occasionally a more tricky puzzle will pop up, but there was nothing I found in the game that proved too taxing.

In Close to the Sun, Rose is given no way to defend herself from any enemies she may encounter along the way, and so her only real choice is to run away. This is where the action comes in and players will find themselves running away and making quick decisions as to what route they will take at certain junctions, with the wrong route leading to an extensive death scene and another attempt. These sequences are quite good fun and if the player is able to take in their surroundings as they flee, then death can be avoided. However, the flee sequences do break up the tense exploration and puzzle solving side, which can be quite jarring.

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Close to the Sun is quite the visual spectacle, but I can’t help but feel that the rest of the game fails to measure up to those standards. The story is good, if incomplete, the puzzles are easy but enjoyable and the chase sequences can be fun, but nothing really stands out as much as the stunning setting. There are collectibles, but otherwise no real reason to go back for more once the game is finished. Players who are looking for a narrative adventure in an impressive setting, Close to the Sun will really hit the mark. For others, it is still a decent romp.




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