Hints of drama but the mechanics haven't hit yet.
Fort Solis has the visual fidelity and voice acting power (featuring Roger Clark, Troy Baker, and Julia Brown the cast is stacked) to create an enticing atmosphere and intriguing setup for its story but it’s too soon to tell if the narrative and walking sim style gameplay will carry it to great heights.
Fort Solis is a single-player, third-person thriller set over one long night on Mars. But in my brief, hands-on session there weren’t any thrills just yet. You play asn engineer, named Jack Leary, who is responding to a routine alarm. Eventually, events will escalate into an unimaginable situation but my session was pretty mundane.
I spent my time walking around, inspecting notes and audio/video logs, and solving simple environmental puzzles. Though calling them puzzles is a bit generous; these were simple interactions to progress but I can see them building over time into more complex challenges. These activities ranged from using a computer to open a locked doorway to interacting with a machine and timing your input, similar to powering up a generator in The Last of Us.
I also encountered a quicktime event where a shelf/set of cases almost knocked me over. During my playtime, I was talking to Jessica Appleton over coms who is in your earing, guiding you through the station.
The highlight of my time was one of the video logs which was a crewmate talking directly to the camera for a video diary. It was intimate, honest, and immersive. It reminded me of other sci-fi moments of vulnerabilities like the video logs in the film Interstellar (2014).
Diegetic UI further engrossed me in the world with info being accessible to me via the device on my wrist rather than simply clicking into a menu. I will say that sometimes this is taken too far: swapping clarity for immersion. One instance of this was when I used a nearby computer to unlock a door: the computer never went fullscreen so it felt like I was reading over my character’s shoulder but at an awkward angle that made it hard to see.
As a big fan of story games, I’m interested in what Fort Solis has to say but, sadly, it didn't say much in this behind-closed-doors preview. I'm still optimistic because I can see the potential but the slice I played didn't sell me on the game.
Fort Solis has a Summer 2023 release window and will launch on PC and PlayStation 5.