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Solo: Islands of the Heart review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Merge Games
Developer: Team Gotham
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

Solo: Islands of the Heart wants to be your therapist. It wants to make you think. It wants to get inside your head, and really make you consider what you think about life, and love, and relationships.

It’s a pity, then, that all I can focus on is that it features one of the worst cameras I’ve ever seen in a game.

There are literally no good viewing angles to be found in this game. You walk from island to island, trying to solve puzzles and unlock totem poles that ask you personal questions, but the entire time you’re doing it, you’ll be struggling to see what’s going on. Whether you angle it so that it’s behind your main character, or above, or at the side, you’ll never be able to tell where you’re going, and the moment you think you’ve found a spot that works, you’ll realize that it only works as long as you stay perfectly still. Simply walking in a straight line can be a challenge — to say nothing of gliding, or trying to place blocks to help you climb up to hard-to-reach places — since the camera will inevitably get stuck behind a tree, or a rock, or under water.

Consequently, the puzzles here are significantly harder than they need to be. In a normal game, grabbing and placing blocks would be the most basic thing imaginable. Here, by contrast, it’s an adventure, and not in a good way. You’ll have some vague sense of where you’re trying to place blocks and where you’re trying to go, but without any way to properly judge depth perception, much of the time it’ll feel like rough guesses.

Mind you, in a way, being so frustrating may actually be for the best, from the game’s perspective. It means that you don’t notice how insipid its commentary is. It asks you questions about whether you think it’s possible to love more than one person at the same time, or how happy you are in your love life, and from this it wants to be able to help players realize how they really feel in their relationships. I suppose there are some people who might be able to better understand themselves by playing Solo: Islands of the Heart, but at the same time, I’d be kind of worried if a game like this was the catalyst for giving you that level of insight.

Mind you, that’s the cynical way of looking at things, and cynicism isn’t really compatible with what Solo: Islands of the Heart is trying to do. If you’re a less cynical person than me, then, I’ll say that there may be something here you’ll enjoy — but even if there is, the camera-work may be terrible enough that not even the most optimistic person will want to give up on this game and admit defeat.

Merge Games provided us with a Solo: Islands of the Heart Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-