Review – Solar Flux

Originally released on iPads and PC, the bizarre Solar Flux can best be described when you mix the weird controls and pickup system from the old Star Control games with the plot from that one weird Sunshine movie starring Cillian Murphy, that one in which they’re trying to reignite the sun with some weird tech before the entire audience fell asleep. It’s a simple puzzle game revolving around collecting plasma and throwing it in nearby suns in order to reignite them. So, is this a good one for your library?

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That little donut with some headlights, that’s your “spaceship”.

Writing about Solar Flux is a hard task because there’s not a lot in it to begin with. You can definitely see its mobile origins, as this is a very minimalistic puzzler meant to be played for a handful of minutes at a time. You can also see its mobile origins due to the fact you don’t ever need to press buttons while playing it. Everything is done via the touchscreen, be it controlling the ship, traversing through the menus or even pausing. I honestly didn’t like the game’s overall interface, as its excessive focus on minimalism meant that every single menu option showed up just as an icon, with no labels or text to help out.

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Those gravity rings are a godsend.

The minimalism can also be seen in the game’s visuals and soundtrack. Just like most games originally meant for mobile devices, the soundtrack can just be described as “it’s there just for the sake of being there”. Solar Flux features the typical soundtrack that’s so forgettable I instantly forgot about it when I stopped playing it. As for the graphics, they’re not necessarily bad. In fact, what little there is in here is actually really well designed and textured, but you can count the number of assets used in this game with your your two hands. It gets repetitive really quickly, as all you’ll see is plasma bits, a few ships, a few suns and a handful of obstacles.

Solar Flux‘s controls can also be described as minimalistic. At the beginning of each round, you’ll aim your ship at a desired direction with a cannon (don’t ask), then proceed to collect the remaining pieces scattered around the map with the help of your very limited rocket boosters and nearby gravity fields. Those gravity fields are a neat trick, as they lock you into an orbital path without the need of spending fuel or armor, while your boosters allow you to move around by accelerating to another direction, but without losing the momentum from the direction you were previously going to. That makes the entire game feel more like you’re walking on ice, and not outer space. The touchscreen interface is also very convoluted. You don’t drag your ship around, you touch a space behind your ship in order for it to accelerate to the completely opposite direction. Suffice to say, it takes a while for you to get used to the controls.

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That would give Neil DeGrasse nightmares.

What’s even weirder is that the bad controls make the game actually challenging in a good way. Solar Flux definitely plays on your frustration. Being able to pull off a perfect run even with the weird physics and unreliable controls ended up being fun and also quite addicting. Thankfully, Solar Flux does come with almost a hundred levels, so there will always be a new challenge for you to tackle once you boot it up. This is far from a must-have on your system, and it’s still best suited for phones and tablets, but if you’re looking for a quick little puzzler for you to enjoy for a few minutes in between your Super Smash Bros Ultimate sessions, Solar Flux isn’t a bad choice. You could do a lot worse, in fact.

Graphics: 5.5

Well, the sun is really well-textured and well-detailed. Sadly, the overall visuals are extremely repetitive and minimalistic. The menus are also very minimalistic and often confusing, as they’re only comprised of icons.

Gameplay: 6.0

The game is basically played with the touchscreen. No buttons are used at all. The controls are very clunky at first, but you’ll soon get a hang of it and the game’s physics. The interface could have been less minimalistic.

Sound: 5.5

The game features a soundtrack just for the sake of having one. It’s extremely forgettable like most games coming from the iOS realm.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Weirdly enough, the fact that Solar Flux‘s controls are so frustrating is what makes it challenging and somewhat rewarding whenever you complete a level.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Solar Flux is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, and iPad.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Solar Flux was provided by the publisher.

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