From the very beginning of Solstice Chronicles: MIA, it is apparent that the game wants you to go into battle and never look back. There isn’t much pausing between each battle, and that’s what makes this game so much fun, as the non-stop action always keeps you moving and never has you sitting around too long for something else to happen. Solstice Chronicles: MIA is the sci-fi shooter that takes many great ideas from a bunch of other genres and blends it into its self for a fast paced shooter that never seems to end.

You pick up arms as a lone marine, stranded on a Martian colony that has been infected with a plague and you, with your new ally the Insurgent drone, will have to find a way to escape the desolate world. Its premise is simple, yet direct as it takes no extra time to explain what is going on, as the game wants to venture and fighting your way through hordes of mutants from the get go. The game will push you to always be moving and standing still will mean sure death and with barely any time in between from exploration to battle, you’ll be moving around quite a bit.

Solstice Chronicles: MIA is a blend of top down, twin stick shooting and tactical gameplay and does a fantastic job in meshing both of them together in a unique style of game. Picking your load-outs before jumping into the fray as weapon enhancements and classes offer enough differences between them to make them feel unique and suited for many different styles of play. The main purpose of the game is to go into the fray guns blazing, but these subtle changes in classes and weaponry add a different level of depth in how you approach any given situation.

Weapon management and ammo conservation will play a big part in Solstice Chronicles: MIA, especially in the final levels or higher difficulty settings as you may think you are well prepared for a battle ahead, but what usually ends up happening is a frantic push to try to find ammunition between battles and with a ammo cap of 999, plus secondary and special weapons, you can imagine how many bullets you have to waste through enemies and still not being enough.

The level variety in Solstice Chronicles: MIA doesn’t vary from one level to another as most maps will have you reach point A to point B all while taking down the enemies along the way. There are certain missions that do try to spice things up by throwing other types of objectives at you such as giving power to the station by going through different parts of the station, but for the most part, it is a simple straight line to your goal with a mob of mutants between you and the next mission. These missions are in quick sequences and never overstay their welcome, but a bit more variety would have come a long way for Solstice Chronicles: MIA.

The best feature in Solstice Chronicles: MIA is its threat system, where it will let you know how many enemies are coming which builds tension and suspense each and every step you take. From one moment everything is calm and no enemies are to be seen until you reach the next room and a huge number of mutants spawn and attack. This wave based system help derive the flow of the exploration portion and the game’s combat, which rarely coexist at the same time, making it easy to pick up when and where enemies will spawn.

The game’s boss battles are lackluster in this regards, however, as they are a complete 180 in comparison to the wave system that Solstice Chronicles: MIA offers. They are bland in design, mechanics, and appearance, they only serve a meat sponge that is far too simple and redundant. The game does try to switch it up by having some mini-bosses mixed with the enemy horde, but even then, they are usually predictable and far too simple to waste too much time with.

After rampaging through waves of enemies and completing missions, you will be rewarded with points to upgrade your suit of armor with new weapons, gadgets and various power-ups. While they are all unique and have their own benefits, these upgrades do not add too much to the game as enemies are simple enough to take down with any basic weaponry or hand to hand combat, making the time investing in the games talent tree necessary, unless you are playing on a higher difficulty setting, but even then, it is easy enough to work around and just select any new power-up.   

Being a top down shooter, Solstice Chronicles: MIA doesn’t need to be an overly impressive game but does fairly well with its desolate art style. The maps presentations made you feel alone at times which was great set ups for when hordes of monsters showed up, but the scenery is well executed as the game’s visuals take many visual cues from early 80’s sci-fi movies like Aliens as well as other inspirations from the Diablo franchise.

On the other hand, its voice acting is sub par as both main protagonist and robotic companion is static and uninspiring in their conversations and interactions with the environment. The game makes it seem that they are supposed to have a team dynamic with one another, but their emotionless dialog make both heroes boring and unresponsive to the situations at hand. This can also be said for the mini-in-game cutscenes where it is supposed to give you a sense of danger, falls flat with the static display.

Solstice Chronicles: MIA, isn’t a relatively long game, clocking in roughly between 10 to 12 hours, but it does offer many ways to go back and replay each mission and with each of them being relatively short, you’ll never feel as though you’ve spent too much time on each level. With different classes, difficulty levels and a surprising amount of hidden details to find in each given map, there is always a reason to go back and play the game after your first playthrough.

Starting at $21.99 CAD, Solstice Chronicles: MIA becomes an easy recommendation to many gamers who are looking for a frantic, Diablo-esc set in space, even though the game has its few flaws. The story and the lack of something extra to do besides mowing down hordes of mutants may get tiresome for some, but if you are looking for an easy to pick up bulletstorm that offers quickly in and out missions then Solstice Chronicles: MIA might be a title for you.

What you get with Solstice Chronicles: MIA is a good game that does what it does well and offers players hours of senseless, brutal fun. The game meshes two different gameplay styles to give a unique flair to both genres and a great setting that hasn’t been visited by any titles in recent year’s, but the protagonist’s bland personalities and it’s poorly executed boss battles keep this title from being a great game. Still, Solstice Chronicles: MIA offers enough challenges and replayability to make this a game worth picking up and going back once done.  

A copy of Solstice Chronicles: MIA was provided to Link-Cable by the publisher for the purpose of this review.