So...what happens when you make a game with a Bioshock aesthetic, strip away most of that game's mechanics, focus on story, throw in some basic puzzles and collectables while adding some sprinkles of intrigue, jump-scares and insta-death-loop-try-again segments? Well...I guess you get Close to the Sun, literally!
What is it?
Deep in international waters, Tesla’s Helios stands still. We play Journalist Rose Archer, stepping aboard in search of our sister, only to discover all is not as it seems. A single word covers our point of entry…QUARANTINE!
Close to the Sun is a first-person horror adventure game created by Storm in a Teacup and published by Wired Productions.
We played on the PC at 1440p 60FPS with all settings maxed via Steam (and it's also available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, think it was an epic store exclusive before it went to steam and retails on steam at £15.99 at time of recording).
We completed the game in just over 10hrs over 2 sessions of live stream play (incidentally, the full commentary playthrough should be linked in the description and in the card above, we did some roleplay, took our time, observed the lore and environment, yeah, it's definitely worth a watch if that sounds like you). We also managed to obtained all collectables (1 with the help of a guide which resulted in replaying half a level) and got 23 out of 26 achievements available.
• The environment visuals, lighting and setting are nice with a strong Bioshockesque art-deco period setting.
• Sounds and voices are well performed and executed.
• A generous auto-saving system that largely prevents frustration which is important for a game with no manual saving.
• An intriguing setting and curious character motivations from the outset.
• It plays well overall and doesn't overstay it's welcome (especially if you aren't achievement hunting even taking the collectable hunt into account).
• There are so performance drops on the pc despite running on an RTX 2080 in 1440p with 32GB ram and an octo-core AMD and playing on a SSD.
• Story falls flat and becomes cliché once the main arc is revealed.
• Most of the collectables don't add much to the story and hunting them can be frustrating potentially due to the lack of manual saving.
• A disappointing, lack of impact and potentially unfinished feeling ending.
• Somewhat wasted setting considering the lack of gameplay mechanic depth.
• Relies on the gone the wrong way, insta-death, try again loop on occasion which kills the fear factor especially when death & cut scenes cannot be skipped (PS there's an achievement for completing this game without dying).
• Sometimes reloading a chapter in order to go back and retrieve a missed collectible for instance resulted in needing to close the entire game and reload due to the game hanging in a black screen (however pressing the stop game via steam client closed it without problem).
Good game overall with an impressive visual presentation and style (there's still not enough art-deco Bioshockey visual style things in the world), well voiced and good sounds. However for me the story, atmosphere and intrigue begin to falter once you the main plot arc is revealed and the characters potential leanings become somewhat predictable.
For it's presentation and setting, you'd be forgiven for expecting more from such a game with such aesthetics, especially with it's focus on narrative and lite puzzles and less mechanics to manage, but it really ends up being just a good, slightly more involved, walking simulator; one of the better ones though.