A twisted first-person experience in a world where Nikola Tesla’s concepts came to life.
By David Jagneaux.
Close to the Sun is a fascinating alternate-history thriller that explores the implications of a truth in which all of Nikola Tesla’s ambitious, wild, and often psychopathic ideas came to life. Some pacing issues and repetitive experimentation sectors can make it a bit inconsistent sometimes, however it still does a fantastic job of letting you get lost in its fascinating passages.
In Close to the Sun you play as Rose, an analytical reporter who comes aboard Tesla’s city-sized ship, called the Helios, to find and rescue her sis Ada. It doesn’t take wish for occasions to go sideways as things are quite not as they seem. While the story begins out slow, there are lots of remaining questions and unusual secrets going on that successfully held my attention to the end of its approximately six-hour playtime.
Close to the Sun uses its inspirations on its sleeve, happily. The lovely art deco styles are reminiscent of BioShock’s Rapture and the combat-less gameplay lifts heavy motivation from the similarity Outlast. The pieces aren’t original at all, however Close to the Sun puts everything together in a distinct manner in which feels like a super-concentrated dose of the very best parts of “strolling simulators”– a category label I do not like, however is quite appropriate in this case. And although I would not call it a scary video game, there are a lot of gruesome, terrifying moments throughout.
It will pull you in as long as you’re in the right mood for its slow-paced world structure.
You invest the majority of your time walking down hallways, trying to find ideas, reading notes, and unlocking the next area of the ship by resolving brief brain teasers like remembering signs on geometric objects or searching down passcodes on pieces of paper. It can be a bit dull sometimes, but if you remain in the best mood for its slow-paced world structure, its excellent sound design will pull you in. Voice acting is first-class, ambient sounds truly set the state of mind, and the moments of deafening silence become simply as crucial and effective as the sparsely placed music.
The problem with these sorts of video games is simply how vital pacing is. If you get stuck on a puzzle due to forgetting a shape, can’t find out where to go because of multi-level maze-like map layouts, or don’t activate the exact right thing you were expected to do due to the fact that you weren’t looking the ideal spot when you got in the room, then it produces a suffocating dullness. At three points I briefly got lost or could not rather find out what to do for longer than expected due to the fact that of obtuse puzzle style not making it clear what I must search for and it truly soured the tone. It’s not so much that puzzles are hard, but more so that a lot of them involve memorization and experimental sections that can be a bit tedious.
There are also a handful of chase sequences that truly felt out of place. During these scenes you have to perfectly navigate mazes and jump over things at the correct time and make the right turns up until the end. If you screw up and get caught, you’re instantly dead and need to begin over. Replaying the very same section, bookended by brief filling screens, over and over can be extremely laborious, specifically because it does not do a great job of making it clear where you’re expected to choose unforeseeable particles or closed-off passages obstructing your way. Striking a dead end I had no other way of preparing for and after that being required to redo the whole chase was never enjoyable.
Close to the Sun is at its finest when it truly leans into the alternate-history angle.
You’ll see a handful of other characters regularly, but many exposition is provided through conversations over radio signals between Rose and other characters– which is truthfully an advantage because, regardless of how beautifully detailed the environments are, whenever a character is on screen their stiff animations distractingly stand out.
Near the Sun is at its finest when it actually leans into the alternate-history angle. There is one bit in specific very early on that has you stroll through a portion of the ship that imitates a museum of Tesla’s many iconic innovations. At each station you can listen to an audio recording of Tesla describing the innovation to you and, for a couple of brief minutes, his genius is laid bare. I loved hearing about the lofty concepts behind the Death Ray, a weapon so effective it would end all war out of worry, or the Tesla Tower and its wireless energy transmissions. It’s an excellent scene that assists develop the grandeur of his character in the face of an otherwise-crumbling reputation in this imaginary universe.
Before long, you start to see echoes of previous moments throughout the ship. Specks of what is referred to as “disorderly energy” form unclear shapes of people talking, mingling, and walking around– fortunately they’re so mystical they don’t truly experience the exact same animation problems as the full character designs. It’s got a spooky quality and does a great task of making the Helios feel resided in, and occasionally these echoes lead the method through an area or supply a hint for puzzles. They’re a neat visual tool that never ever gets tedious or overused.
Near To the Sun is one of the very best examples of the “walking simulator” design of experience video game I’ve seen in quite some time. It does a wonderful task of blending the visual style of BioShock with the tense atmosphere of Outlast and slow-paced world-building of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. While the sometimes-obtuse puzzles and sluggish pacing can cause frustration and repetition, this is a traumatic and thoughtfully designed experience from start to end up.