Fort Solis Review – “I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This…”

Fallen Leaf and Black Drakkar Games’ thriller walking sim, Fort Solis, tells the story of Jack Leary’s shift from hell right before he’s due to go on holiday leave – don’t we all have those days right before we’re set to have time off?

Jack and his colleague, Jessica, are engineers on Mars and decide to respond to a routine alarm sounded by a nearby remote mining base, Fort Solis. Jack investigates the base while staying in contact with Jessica over the radio. While most of Fort Solis’ crew have departed the base during the storm season, a handful of essential personnel and researchers have remained, or should have, as when Jack arrives, Fort Solis is seemingly deserted.

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It’s storm season on Mars and Jack needs to complete his investigation before the weather is too severe to turn back.

As a walking sim, Fort Solis is limited in what it offers in terms of gameplay. However, walking sim fans such as myself should be fine with this as long as the story carries – and Fort Solis’ narrative certainly does this. The game mostly involves navigating the facility and picking up notes, video logs and voice recordings to piece together what has happened to the crew. There are collectables in the form of movie posters which Jack and Jessica will converse about, but asides from that, Fort Solis is mostly narrative-drive.

One qualm I did have with Fort Solis’ gameplay were the Quick Time Events. These are often seen in walking sims to bring in some element of further gameplay. However, Fort Solis’ QTEs are absolutely brutal, with some only offering a split second reaction time after a lengthy cut scene. There are also no accessibility options to turn these off, which I’m hoping is introduced after release.

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Chief Medical Officer, Wyatt Taylor is played by Troy Baker.

I did find that a lot of my three hour playtime was spent wandering around the station, unsure of how to get to where I needed to be. Fort Solis does have a map, however it’s very small and you have to zoom right in to be able to read the room names. I also think the outside doors need to be added to the map as I spent ages trying to work out how to get into the Communications Hub when I didn’t have clearance to get through the hallway door – unknowing that I needed to go outside and access it from there. Of course, it doesn’t help that Fort Solis is yet another example of slow and clumsy movement in walking sims that we see so often.

Of course, where Fort Solis really shines is through its story which is backed up by gorgeous graphics with the game being developed on the Unreal Engine 5, and atmospheric music which grows more intense as Fort Solis progresses. I was so compelled by this mystery that I finished the game in one sitting – which it’s the perfect length for doing so. Fort Solis is very well-paced and does a superb job of building tension. The story was in-depth enough to hold my interest and also short enough that there wasn’t a moment where I got bored.

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Darkened rooms and tight corridors are a common sight in Fort Solis.

But what really carried this story was the absolutely tremendous job by Fort Solis’ star-studded cast. Troy Baker is undoubtedly the biggest name among them, though Jack and Jessica, voiced by Roger Clarke and Julia Brown, in particular were truly great characters and I adored their radio banter as Jack investigated Fort Solis. I also loved Jack as the lead protagonist – he isn’t the traditional gruff male lead that we’re so used to seeing in video games; he has a silly sense of humor and a ridiculously laid back attitude, so much so that he’s constantly teased by Jessica for his lack of movie logic when failing to recognise clear red flags (possibly due to the amount of beer he consumed in the lobby area) and also his tendency to get overly distracted with some of the interactable items at the station, such as a Rubik’s Cube. Both characters feel truly human and this is large thanks to Roger Clark and Julia Brown’s performances.

If you go into Fort Solis not expecting much in terms of gameplay, as you should for a walking sim, you won’t be disappointed by its storyline which left me thinking for hours afterwards. The captivating mystery and compelling performances from its cast make it a great walking sim which you can complete in one sitting.

Jess played Fort Solis on PlayStation 5 with a review code. Fort Solis is also available on PC.

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