Close To The Sun (2022)

Close To The Sun (2022)

What might be a genre in and of itself, Close to the Sun is a narrative first person “experience” more than it is anything else. There is not much to go on with the mechanics. There is no combat. The stealth sections, and the few times you must outrun enemies are so short and don’t come up all that often, that the game seems very light on actual gameplay. But that isn’t what is interesting about the game. Story and Atmosphere take precedence above all else.

Clearly inspired by Bioshock (and maybe a bit too much in certain aspects for my liking), Close To The Sun presents a story of an alternate reality, where back near the turn of the nineteenth century (yeah, 1890-something) Nikola Tesla ended up creating massive amounts of electric inventions and basically became something of a figurehead in society. Creating a hulking ship called the Helios. It’s here that the game gives the player its interpretation of Rapture. Rose Archer is brought on board thanks to a letter her sister Ada has sent to her, asking her to join her aboard the Helios and help her out with something.

The atmosphere and general aesthetic of the game is nothing short of breathtaking. Its high vaulted ceilings and glossy pristine bronze statues are something of a spectacle. But as all good games of this nature, things turn very wrong very quickly. The entire ship is abandoned, and soon Rose finds the ship in disarray and a scene that looks like a horror movie. She stumbles into a room full of dismembered and mutilated bodies, and it only gets worse from there.

I wasn’t expecting the game to be filled with gore and horror. And as much as I don’t really enjoy that type of stuff, the game itself was interesting enough to keep me wanting to know more of the story. Thanks to the wealth of strewn about items that give more detail and backstory to the game thanks to its environment. No dropped audio logs, as it seems like most developers understand people really don’t like that (I personally see no issues with them, if they are voice acted well, and give more detail and background to the game’s environment).

There are a few small sections where the pacing felt off, or a bit weird, but it was quickly over with and I kept moving forward. I ended up spending more time in areas than I probably should have, but it was thanks to all the little pieces of paper or items around the ship that I would come across. Every single item I could pick up and look at allowed me to see into the world a little bit deeper. Giving me more insight into how this world worked.

To speak about the visual design of the game quickly again, I find myself continually thinking how much I loved the overall look of the game. I could spend many more hours aboard the Helios, and wanted to see more of the inner workings of the ship. Using the blueprint Bioshock put into place, the game could have delved deeper into the various more residential locations, such as a shopping area, relaxation sections among others. As it does seem it's more of a scientific barge, it might not have had those things. If there was more reason to go help others escape, I could see spending more time in the ship’s larger facilities.

Without any combat, and just a scattering of a few puzzles, all of which were very easy to solve, there isn’t much else to say about the game. It offers a great looking experience, and the storyline is also interesting to earn its four and a half hour runtime. The voice acting, while at times felt a bit too over acted with it’s accents, also wasn’t so over the top that I didn’t care. Every character sounded genuine and this is a great smaller type of game that the industry could use more. For a free four hour game experience, it could be improved upon, but not by much. It’s absolutely worth checking out.