Reviewed by Josh Brant
Developed By: Firebrand Games
Published By: Firebrand Games
Category: Puzzle & Adventure
Release Date: December 11, 2018
Developer Firebrand Games have primarily been about racing experiences with Cars 2 and the Need for Speed series to name a couple. However, the developer is breaking out of their comfort zone with the clever puzzle title Solar Flux that requires a much greater concentration than speed and adrenaline. While it may seem too simple and is only really viable being played in handheld due to the mobile control scheme, Solar Flux is a much deeper and rewarding experience than initially perceived.
Set in a universe where the universes suns are dying out, your mission is to save these stars and stop them from imploding. Solar Flux is a space puzzle title where you travel across the universe and must deliver plasma fragments to theses dying suns to restore their equilibrium. Each level presents you with a puzzle, with you having to find out how to get this plasma to the sun using minimal, if any, boost fuel to achieve a perfect ranking of three stars.
You start with a main ship that you can choose which direction to fire off your sub-ship that will collect the plasma fragments from areas of the map and then deliver them to the suns. Using the waves from each sun when a plasma segment is delivered affects the direction your ship travels. This can be used to ride the waves without burning fuel to the next available plasma fragment. You can also use the waves to direct you back to your main ship to shoot you off in a different direction, or even to a nearby moon to ride its gravitational pull into another direction.
Unlike most games where you can just quickly plow through the objectives to get to the later levels and stages, Solar Flux implies that you try and not use your boosters in order to gain the necessary three stars for perfect execution. Oftentimes I found myself annoyed when I would just miss out on three stars due to not using a gravitational pull or the solar flares correctly. However, it’s not just as simple as going back in and trying it the same way and hoping for a different outcome. There are specific ways to get a perfect rating and it requires thinking outside the box which I loved about Solar Flux.
The gameplay is simple to grasp and the first few stages do an adequate job of spoon feeding how you play the game and teaching you the tricks to navigation. As you get further the levels are much more complex and require a lot more attention and skill. Much of your time will be spent in trial-and-error processes and there’s nothin more satisfying than finally figuring out the perfect trajectory to get three stars.
Visually, I found Solar Flux stunning in its simplicity with what can be described as minimal 3D graphics. Solar systems look massive and beautiful, even on the small Switch screen, and each level is deep with an underlying space-like aura that penetrates the senses. I was also impressed by the music which was simple, subtle, and atmospheric. It almost felt like I was in a space museum or at an observatory, and what comes to mind for me is the Kennedy Space Center.
Overall, Solar Flux was an enjoyable and clever puzzler that managed to make me think outside the box to solve its solutions. There is plenty of content with over 80 missions to conquer and perfect, and many gameplay elements take the addictive qualities of something like Angry Birds to great effect. While saving the galaxy might be too challenging at times and there’s not much else to do once you’ve saved the universe, Solar Flux is still a great and relaxing way to spend a few nights.