Review – Red Solstice 2: Survivors
I’m not gonna lie, I laughed and cringed a bit when Troy Baker introduced Red Solstice 2: Survivors as a “real-time XCOM“. As if that statement made any freaking sense, during one of E3 2021’s many, many, many showcases. Even though that presentation did very little to convince new people to try that game out, that served to remind me that its full version was due to be released soon, which made me very excited. I quite enjoyed the preview build I was sent a few weeks ago, so I really wanted to see what else the game had to offer.
The core gist of it is that it’s a real-time action-strategy hybrid in which you’re tasked with exploring derelict labs and towns in Mars, completing objectives, and killing mutated space zombies along the way. Depending on the way you decide to play the game, as there is no true “correct way” to play it, you can treat Red Solstice 2: Survivors as either an RTS, a “Diablo with guns”, or a borderline twin-stick shooter.
It all depends on how you want to play it, and most importantly, whether you turn the “Overwatch” mechanic on or off. With Overwatch on, your character will automatically shoot at any enemy that gets inside a fairly big radius. This lets you complete your objectives (mostly related to walking to a place and pressing a button) all while blasting everything in sight, with little to no input needed from the player. For newcomers, that is actually a blessing: the game’s AI is quite hearty, but so is your character’s accuracy. You can also team up with friends online in any mission. For anyone else, playing Red Solstice 2: Survivors this way will feel more like you’re watching a let’s play session, as the game does everything by itself.
On the other hand, if you decide to play the game manually, you’re in for a neat challenge. Red Solstice 2: Survivors offers a ton of offensive and defensive strategies, such as blowing up explosive obstacles by manually aiming at them, building turrets, using flamethrowers to create temporary area-of-effect traps, mixing different kinds of ammo for special outcomes, and using both mouse buttons to basically create a faux twin-stick shooter. It is a bit more cumbersome to solve small puzzles and open doors this way, but considering how this game is basically more about mowing down aliens than actually being strategic, it’s not too much of an issue.
Its simplicity might actually be its biggest issue. Red Solstice 2: Survivors is really fun… so long you view it as anything other than a hardcore tactical game. Most of its maps are fairly linear and its objectives usually revolve around going from point A to point B and surviving an enemy ambush. I did not mind it at all, as the action mechanics are solid, and the game’s technical department (more on that in a few) got the job done. But if you’re looking for a good story, you’re not going to get it here. If you want variety, forget it. Most of the strategic and tactical choices you’ll make in the game are done in-between missions, when you can level up your stats and research upgrades.
Thankfully, Red Solstice 2: Survivors delivers when it comes to its presentation. Even though the game is supposed to be dark as hell when exploring derelict buildings, resulting in a ton of shadows and fog of war, and the screen is drenched in icons and menus. It’s very pleasing to look at. Its lighting effects get the job done and its textures and art style are rock solid. One thing I wasn’t expecting, however, was for the sound department to be this good. The soundtrack is tense and eerie, the weapon sound effects pack one hell of a punch, and the voice acting is quite excellent… even though the story is one you won’t give a crap about.
Red Solstice 2: Survivors can be a bit too simplistic for a tactical game at times. You might feel like the game is basically playing itself and you’re just there watching things unfold, but this is actually a pretty accessible action-strategy hybrid that offers you a ton of tools to play the game according to your level of expertise with the genre. Its story is bland and playing solo is nowhere near as entertaining as it sounds, but blasting a bunch of mutated zombies with mates will most certainly be a fun time.
A lot of the screen is covered in icons and fog of war, but I do appreciate Red Solstice 2: Survivors‘ lighting effects and art style a lot.
It can be played as an RTS or a borderline twin-stick shooter with tactical elements, depending on your preference. It’s complex and simple at the same time, and its tutorial level does a wonderful job teaching you all of its mechanics.
Weapon sounds pack a punch, the voice acting is surprisingly robust (even though the story is boring), and the soundtrack is tense and powerful as it should be.
Fun Factor: 7.5
Fans of more detailed tactical and strategy games won’t like how automated the gameplay can be at times, resulting in a feeling that the game is playing itself. However, Red Solstice 2: Survivors gives players tons of different tools to wreak havoc against alien hordes by yourself or with a friend.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Red Solstice 2: Survivors is available now on PC.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Red Solstice 2: Survivors was provided by the publisher.