Teotl Studios, the developers behind adventure game The Ball, have revealed their new title coming to PC. Solus is a single player sci-fi exploration and survival game developed in Unreal Engine 4. Its setting is an uninhabited alien world where the player must survive in its harsh and varied environments of plummeting temperatures, rising tides, meteor strikes and high winds. Talking about the game’s development, Sjoerd De Jong of Teotl observes that the game has been developed using innovative scripts that will help generate its enormous and unpredictable environments.
The story describes how Earth is on the brink of destruction, that you – the player – have traveled for 20 years to reach this world on an (as yet) undefined mission. Suffering a catastrophic crash landing, you are the only survivor among your crew, with no means to contact earth. The pre-alpha footage available on the team’s website shows a beautiful and distinctly alien environment, where planets and stars wheel realistically overhead. It also demonstrates the transition from day to night, and the changing weather conditions as rain begins to fall and lightning strikes the ground. While nothing has been said about potential enemies or intelligent life on the planet, the video did reveal a structure amidst the landscape. For the present, however, the team’s description emphasizes that it is the planet – its violent and changing weather patterns and geology, its volcanoes and earthquakes – that is “your enemy”.
The game will be experienced in first-person perspective as the player “explores, scavenges and survives” on its world. This will require the player to explore its varied environments and landscapes. While an ultimate objective has not been proposed at this stage, the team make reference to your aim to “rebuild a communication device through the scavenging of useful items you come across”, but also refer to the planet’s underlying “secrets”, suggesting that the player is not the “first one here”.
Surving in Solus is going to be challenging and unpredictable. In addition to its sun and moons, the planet has a life sustaining atmosphere, large quantities of water, but a landscape that it is mostly made up of arid desert with red vegetation. There will also be a realistic day/night cycle where the temperature will rise to 40C in the day, and plummet to -35C at night. If this all sounds like you’ll be spending most of you’re time shivering or boiling in a desert, then there are other areas to explore – there will be a large number of caverns dotted across the world, whose nature – depending on their depth – ranges from stone, through ice, to lava at their deepest. It sounds like these caverns will present ideal safe-places to seek shelter from the cold and heat, but may also represent threats in their own right.
This gives the impression that the player will be continually balancing their survival against the planet, thinking ahead to ensure they are not caught out in a hostile situation. However, because of the team’s reference to “disasters”, we can presume that your planning may well be interrupted by unique environmental – and other – events. One of the most exciting, and terrifying, is shown in the gameplay video – a heavy meteorite shower, with the entire sky filled with falling, flaming debris. It’s a wonder to behold and looks strangely exciting to witness in game.
De Jong and Teotl have been working with innovative scripts and tools to generate this complex and beautiful world. Blueprint has been used in UE4 to allow for the generation of the planet’s vast spaces without the massive amount of time that would be required to code the world line by line. Because of the team’s small size, it is looking even more impressive that they have such a big vision for the planet and its mechanics. It was also revealed that new shader and material systems have been included in the game, producing the strange contrasts, textures and impressions that can be seen in the screenshots.
Excitingly, they have also revealed that due to the modular nature of the game’s design, “anyone” will be able to create levels and new areas to explore. What this will look like in the final game – and whether you’ll be able to include these modifications into your single player experience – is not clear as yet.
Solus is looking both enticing and exciting. We’ll certainly be following the game as the year progresses, while keeping you up to date with new details and features. It’ll be interesting to see whether Teotl can build on the game’s concepts, and on its luscious visuals, to bring us the vast, immersive, and dangerous world that the screenshots and video promise.
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