What is love? That’s not really what the guys on Saturday Night Live thought (yeah, I’m getting really old now). Love can be difficult to describe and is often described as indescribable. When a game presents itself and tries to explore the theme of love in an introspective way through an interactive experience, it has to be worked out. As soon as you look at Solo: Heart Island for the Nintendo Switch. Are we going to find love, understand the meaning of love or just love this game?
Solo: Island of the Heart is a game built on a journey of understanding love and how it reflects one’s life. The game is based on a little puzzle mechanics, exploration, and certainly has a narrative purpose. If you look at the screenshots, you can even compare it to The Witness, but the puzzles are not nearly as difficult, and for the time being the game is more like a walking simulation.
At the beginning of the game you need to answer a series of questions as truthfully and confidently as possible. You are asked some preliminary questions that question the story, such as B.: are you a man, a woman, non-binary, and are you in love, have you been in love, do you think love is meaningless, etc.? From there, the game unfolds its storyline, personalized according to your entry tiles.
After this introduction it won’t take long to find your happy little avatar on a colorful and lively island. As you walk around, you’ll learn a number of basic lessons, such as how to deal with the little creatures, and especially what your secondary objectives are in the game. You see, the island you’re on is actually part of a much larger archipelago that unfolds more and more as you complete each level/island task. However, the goal is always the same: You have to find and activate the tag and then communicate with the totem character, who then asks you a fairly deep question about love and your experience with three multiple choice answers about how best to answer.
While traveling you will notice that on each island simple puzzle mechanisms in the form of different boxes come into play. They range from very simple standard boxes that can be lifted and moved, to fan boxes and other multi-stage mechanics. You will often have to reach high peaks to get to the lighthouse or the Totem, and to get to these places you will have to solve problems while using crates to trade. You also get useful tools, such as a magic wand that allows you to teleport yourself out of the boxes. These puzzles are not exactly linear, which is good, and you can find unique ways to put boxes around them and solve what you need, although it’s not really applicable to go too far apart. Personally, I liked the puzzles because they weren’t that difficult, and I gave the game a little more momentum to let you stay on the island while you look around and enjoy the scenery a little.
Many of the islands in Solo have secondary objectives in the form of interactions with beautiful creatures in a difficult situation. For example, on an earlier island, I helped meet two small creatures when the bridge that connected them collapsed. It was a reunion with family members and it helped to impress even more on the theme of the game.
You can also take pictures of yourself at will with the in-game camera, and if you like you can play the guitar while walking. Some creatures like that. These side shows are inviting, but I couldn’t help feeling that they had just been invaded. I would like to see longer stories with some of the animals, but I haven’t met them myself yet.
It is difficult to call this game a story, because it is more an internal reflection and reaction than a typical linear plot or even a game with a branching story. When you talk to Totem, he asks you how you feel in certain situations. For example, I was asked a question about the length of love. I’ve decided on an answer that I think could take forever. Shortly after, I found my ghostly companion, representing my beloved, on the couch. When I had a conversation with her, she refuted my answer, which was about a theme that encompassed many islands. When I talked about my feelings, she spoke to me. It was weird for me. I admitted that I liked it, and I was asked to think like that. It is an interesting narrative path that can make you think about your choices and how someone else might react. I think the goal here is to ask the player if love feels as he thinks it does. This reinforces the need to respond honestly to remove the impact the game is trying to have.
It’s a game that you absolutely must play with an open mind. If you’re here for a basic gaming experience, you’ll have a walking simulation with simple puzzle mechanisms. That’s clearly not the point. By engaging yourself from an inner perspective and answering questions that make you think about love and relationships, you will play. It’s not a very long game, and if you’re a fan of games like Journey, Witness of Flower – which are based on relaxed gameplay and reflection time – Solo : Heart Island can challenge your love ideals and what it can ultimately be.
Solo: Islands of the Heart Sight
- Graphs – 6.5/10
- Sound – 5.5/10
- Gameplay – 6/10
- Late complaint – 5/10
Final thoughts: WARNINGS
Solo: Heart Island is an introspective journey to ask how we love and to understand the different ways love can manifest itself. Filled with light puzzle and exploration elements, this game can be a more relaxing gang-simulator than anything else. The price of $20 is a bit high for the included content.
Alex has been involved in the gaming industry since Nintendo’s release. He has turned his hobby into a career, has been developing games for just over ten years and is now creative director of the studio.
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