Fort Solis is so close to being a great sci-fi murder mystery but technicalities hold it back

There’s some games you really wonder what could have been if for one or two slight changes.

Fort Solis is definitely one of them. And it probably should be an example to every developer to have some form of fast traversal, walk or run in your games because oh…my…god.

Forget the fact it’s a massive immersion breaker when you’re in pursuit of a killer – or, more rightly, being pursued by one – it was absolutely painful walking around at a snail’s pace. Seriously, I’ve never seen a video game character walk so slowly up a flight of stairs – and it doesn’t help that the game in question has a truly awful map and wider interface that makes it hard to figure out where you are or what you’re supposed to be doing.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say half of the game’s run time is probably going to be made up of you slowly but surely dragging your heels while figuring out where the hell to go. Or by scrunching up your eyes trying to look at the map which feels like a downgrade from a 1980s retro game. Which is quite an impressive feat, honestly.

But the thing that’s most hilarious is that the game has the audacity to make the character run faster than Usain Bolt in non-interactive action sections. It’s almost like it’s dangling a carrot in your face, knowing full well what it’s doing because as soon as the scene is over, you’re back to shuffling like a zombie. Argh!

The thing is, I desperately wanted to love Fort Solis. The characters are brilliantly acted – both through voice and expression – there’s some great suspense built up here both through music, effects and narrative build-up, it’s a visual treat and there’s some really cool moments filling the core loop. They’ve almost got this one right.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say it rivals Telltale’s recent Expanse series for the way the story is directed and keeps you invested. True, the writing itself doesn’t always land, but the way the voice actors work with the material certainly does. Special shout out to Julia Brown who got more than a laugh or two out of me.

The problem with the writing, though is it does become disjointed. One minute, you’re finding a dead body sprawled out on an operating table or pools of blood on the floor, the next you decide to sit around, having a beer, talking about some fun event you went to one time. It just feels out of place and you feel like the last dramatic sequence didn’t happen.

It’s great to explore characters in this way. In fact, I encourage games to do it more often. We need more of these back and forths so we can learn a bit about the world we can’t see and get to know the person we’re in control of. But the tone is so erratic, moving from one extreme to the next, and after a while it just gets muddled and confusing.

And yet, despite all of that, Fort Solis does a lot better crafting a tight, enclosed space hell than most. It’s not at Dead Space levels, but it could challenge Callisto Protocol for atmosphere. You decide whether that’s a good thing or not.

That said, the game’s closing chapters lose the thread somewhat and will probably leave you even more confused, and desperate to fill in some blanks on the story. Everything that happens seems a bit random and lacking context. For some thigns, that can definitely work but here it left me feeling a little empty.

There’s also these weird prolonged periods of silence that are drawn out and sort of hang over your head, but there’s no real use of SFX or environmental disturbances to kind of fill that void.

And those feed into some awkward, even frustrating QTEs. There’s often random inputs which mix things up to keep you guessing and some of them require you to turn the stick while pressing something else or by timing certain presses to perfection. They’re almost trying to be too clever to seperate themselves from norms, but actually end up being a bit annoying. And probably not the least bit accessible.

Factoring everything in, though, Fort Solis has all the halmarks and makings of a high quality AAA title, based on the way it’s presented, the stylised way it comes together, and the effort that’s going into the acting – clearly the game’s high point. And perhaps even more impressively is the game was only built by a small team, though some of that scaled back scope and vision does become apparent over time.

You feel with a bit more polish, some reworkings of mechanics, some tweaks here and there, and maybe another pass over the writing, this one could have been quite special. That sounds like a lot of changes, but you can quite clearly see the core of a good game here. And when the credits roll, while there was enjoyment to be had along the way, you’re kind of left wondering what could have been.


Fort Solis is quite an impressive sight to behold, with some wonderfully atmospheric space adventure, an intriguing murder mystery and some great acting and characterisation. But while there’s a solid foundation in place, its limitations hold it back through painfully slow movement, an awful map and wider User Interface, clunky QTEs and disjointed storytelling. By the end you’re left wondering what could of been rather than what actually is. 


+ Atmospheric and haunting
+ Great acting
+ An intriguing premise


– Painfully slow movement
– Hard to read map and UI
– Clunky QTEs
– Disjointed storytelling

Fort Solis is out now on PC and PS5

Code Kindly Provided by Dear Villagers for review purposes

Played on PS5

About the author

Brad Baker

Brad is an absolute horror buff and adores the new take on I.T. He also fancies himself as a bit of a Battle Royale master but never when anyone's watching.
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