What would you do for love, for the person you love? It is an age-old question and very often we will make some claim of a grand gesture, but have you ever thought about the ramifications attached to those sweeping statements of hyperbole? Solo explores these ideas in a serene setting of archipelagos where you solve puzzles and answer some pretty tough questions.
Inside your mind, there are multiple islands waiting to be explored. They are serene places with plants and creatures that don’t quite make sense anywhere else, like a cute cat-like critter that really loves bananas. To get more landmass to appear from the ocean you need to awaken Totems and then answer a question about yourself and the person you love. The questions start off pretty easy, like your gender (male, female, non-binary) and the gender of the person you love and if you are together, broke up or they are gone. Then things get deeper. Would you sacrifice everything for the person you love? Each question has three options and while heading to the next section of puzzles, you will spot a spirit of your love, who will comment on your answers. When they do, you realise how they might feel about those situations if roles were reversed, or just put a roadblock in front of your grand statement. Would you really sacrifice everything for a partner? Surely there is something you wouldn’t give up… and do you think they would do the same for you?
While I found a few of the responses to my answers a tad judgmental, it did force me to think about things. If I ever was presented with a situation that required absolutes, what would I do? What would Abigail do (because obviously, I imagined the little girl was a representation of my wife’s thoughts and feelings)? The moments of gloriously quiet, personal joy in a sea of metaphors was enough to make me stop feeling judged very quickly and mostly just… challenged to think about my often romantic answers. Also, there are so many puzzles to solve with little blocks.
To get from point A to B as a character that can’t jump you will need to be clever with blocks. There are no enemies, no spike traps or tests of finger dexterity here. Just a calm world with puzzles as you move boxes around. Eventually, you get magic to move distant blocks closer and special blocks that can float or stick to surfaces and many more and you will have to sometimes scratch the old noggin to solve the puzzles, especially the side puzzles about helping the little critters in your mind. Little cat-like creatures, mini elephants with hats, moles and more roam your mind islands and if you can find them their favourite food, they will let you pet them. It sounds so simple but the act of helping a weird cat thing just feels so rewarding when you pet the little cute animal and it follows you around for a while.
There is something so profound about that, something so simple and elegant that years of therapy and friends have told me to take time to look after myself, yet here is this puzzle in a game that has me watering a field… and suddenly it all makes sense.
There are also puzzles involving water (complete with water that behaves like you would expect in a magical dreamscape) and watering fields. You don’t ever have to water the fields but it makes that island come alive and be more vibrant and you realise that the game is signifying the importance of self-care and self-love. Nobody ever tells you that you need to take some time to look after yourself or the benefits of it, but when you do things get easier and look a bit brighter. There is something so profound about that, something so simple and elegant that years of therapy and friends have told me to take time to look after myself, yet here is this puzzle in a game that has me watering a field for a sad little turnip(?) fella to make things look more vibrant and colourful again and suddenly it all makes sense.
Where to from here?
Solo is a game that takes four hours, but it is fours of love, light, serenity and introspection. In a world that often moves so quickly, so violently and with so much focus on what other people want and get out of you, it is nice to have a game that wants you to pay attention to the most important characters ever: yourself and the person you love. Get ready to play a few tunes on your guitar, move some bricks and just enjoy sitting by the waterside watching the beautiful colours and cute animals going about their day. Oh and feel a bit better about yourself and the person you love. Who doesn’t want that?