MMOGames sat down with Ironward Studio from Croatia and talked about their upcoming title Solstice Chronicles: M.I.A.. The game is currently in Alpha and is a spin-off on last year’s popular game The Red Solstice. It will be launched simultaneously on PC and on PS4 early 2017, and developers are looking into releasing an Xbox One version afterwards.
Solstice Chronicles M.I.A. is a 4-player local coop action game with strategy elements, distancing itself from The Red Solstice which was a strategy game with action elements. It will also feature single-player mode, but perhaps the most interesting feature about this game is that players can control the difficulty of the levels themselves.
The first impressions we had playing it amounted to a mix between a sense of PS4 titles Dead Nation and Alienation, and memories of the typical top-down isometric coop shooter play, with waves of enemies swarming towards you. Although there certainly is an initial feeling of recognition because of familiar elements, this game actually plays out very differently once you dive in.
The waves are very controlled and you have a few moments to come up with a plan. You can also opt to trigger more mobs in your direction at once, in order to increase difficulty. The available options are highly reliant on a tactical sense, which definitely makes Solstice Chronicles: M.I.A. a hardcore game.
There will be 22 maps; each will have both pre-placed monsters as well as monsters which can be triggered. The more monsters you trigger, the harder survival becomes. Once you’ve finished the 22 levels, players unlock a harder difficulty mode in order to continue their epic journey.
The game takes place in the same world as The Red Solstice. The Earth has become uninhabitable, so humanity has now occupied Mars instead. Players take on the role of a character who is missing in action, lost, and threatened by both mutated humans and animals occupying the hostile surroundings before being able to return home. In single-player, the only companion on this journey is a flying drone that follows players. In coop, each player controls the drone and this becomes much more apparent when tactical decisions need to be made.
Funny Little Drone
The drone we just mentioned is a bit broken, but it decides to help you because you’re wearing the combat suit. It is a funny character who stands you by in battle and also provides some comic relief. The good thing is that the drone can’t die in battle, so it remains available to perform actions to help you and your team.
The drone’s first ability is scouting for items. It will disappear for some time and return to a drop-zone where it drops ammo, special skill items, health packs, and more. It’s up to you and your team members to decide who picks what up, because resources are scarce – ammo is not unlimited. However, scouting will make noise and alert monsters to players’ area.
Mobs will show up in waves, either immediately or after a small delay. This aspect is measured by the ‘Threat Level’ indicator at the top of your screen. Every action taken might increase the threat level and after you kill a few waves, the threat level is reduced again. This will also be an indicator for the difficulty of the upcoming waves.
The drone’s second ability is taunting all creatures which are nearby, so that they come to players in one giant wave. This can be very interesting if you’ve just picked up more powerful weapons, if you have a bit more ammunition for it, and if your cooldowns are ready.
The third drone option is a stun mode, which stuns a single particular creature for some time so that players can bring it down This won’t work very well against waves, but is really great against the larger opponents threatening to charge you and your team.
The fourth and last drone ability is a bomb. This bomb must be placed strategically, it takes several seconds to charge and then when you click it again, it goes off. However, this won’t be so easy. The bomb’s explosion area will grow the longer you make it spread. There is only one green area in which players will be safe, and being anywhere outside that green area means certain death. If you’re in it, everyone around you is dead. The bomb has a large cooldown, so players have to carefully time its placement as well as its detonation.
More Game Features
We have already mentioned that this game is hardcore – that description is well-deserved and reflected in various features of the game. To start with, friendly fire is always active. Also, running while aiming means moving slower. The droid’s stun mode will increase its temperature, which puts it at risk of overheating. Reloading weapons actually throws the clip away, which leaves players with less ammo. All of these elements result in a challenging experience, survival-based, and with an absolute requirement of great communication and teamwork.
Luckily, players aren’t entirely helpless. There are several ways to interact with the environment. One option is to close spawn points, which slows the waves of creatures for a small amount of time. This might be essential in allowing the cooldown timers to reset and then go all-out on the massive waves of monsters that will come out once the spawn point open again. That’s right, spawn rate isn’t actually slowed down, waves will just come all together. This is the moment to use special abilities, class abilities, heavy weapons, and of course your drone’s bomb.
Another way you can interact with the environment is by opening new areas and hiding behind certain highlighted blockades. You can in fact jump over those blockades and this will prevent you from getting shot by enemies with ranged sniper weapons – did I mention this was hardcore?. As the enemies can’t jump over these same blockades, it will provide you some shelter until they reach you.
When the game becomes playable there will be skill trees available, and we’ll get to see all the classes, four to start with, that can be chosen to tackle the levels ahead.
The game will come with a full story mode which drags you and your team through the difficulties ahead, in your attempt to reach the safety of the colony once more.
At Gamescom 2016, we had the chance to play the game’s alpha version, and I personally think this is exactly the type of game I would enjoy to play. It’s extreme and punishing, you have to keep your eyes open and pay attention to your surroundings at all times, and you have to be sensible with the way you distribute items among your team.
Meanwhile, the adjustable difficulty of the monster waves will allow for a highly tactical game testing all your skills and where everyone must absolutely work together. You can already sign up on the official website to take part in the closed alpha – I definitely recommend it.Related: Gamescom, Gamescom 2016, Interview, Ironward Studio, Multiplayer, Solstice Chronicle, The Red Solstice