Fight the Zerg, up close and personal.
Type: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Genre: Shooter, Strategy
Publisher: 505 Games
Release date: 17 June, 2021
Red Solstice 2: Survivors is an tactical top-down shooter that lets you infiltrate battlefields alone or with up to other 7 players. You are a member of a tactical team with only one goal: finding a way to survive the threat of the STROL mutant invasion. Fight endless waves of mutant enemies while fighting in urban battlegrounds featuring high interactivity, allowing different approaches to the mission.
Bullets in Tight Spaces
This build of the game allowed us to watch how the game plays out both in skirmish mode and in three missions of the campaign. Starting with the latter, Red Solstice 2’s campaign offers a core experience very similar to that of the skirmish mode, introducing a story and overworld management that reminded me of the one from the last two XCOM games. While the story is, apparently, very marginal with respect to the gameplay (it otherwise will make for a big surprise), the overworld management featured in the campaign will have us scanning the planet in search of intel, missions and resources. With the possibility, from time to time, of destroying entire infested sectors using a powerful orbital cannon.
Inside the campaign, besides or own controlled soldier, we will also have to manage our teams and their composition, which mean customizing every soldier in them: this comes down not only to their class, but also to their equipment and abilities, which use will be fundamental to reach the end of the missions alive. Speaking of missions, each one has both a reward, in the case the goal is reached, but also a penalty for losing it, which means that caution is advised when choosing one: a mission with great rewards could come also with great penalties, which could destroy your campaign progress.
An Unforgiving Gameplay
Getting out of the campaign (which can only be played with bots) and into skirmishes, the game becomes tougher, requiring you and your team to communicate and make intelligent use of the abilities. Even when deploying with bigger teams, the STROL mutants are a hard enemy to fight, especially during the late-mission waves of enemies. Speaking of enemies, the game features an incredible variety of them, which allows the infestation to cover a huge variety of roles and situations: starting from the normal thug, we can then see runners (basically mutated dogs), huge tanks with a seemingly bottomless HP pool, flying monster and even some that await you in dark corners and door thresholds to try and kill you.
The brutal nature of the game makes it so it is mandatory to have knowledge of your team and especially the functions of each class: Red Solstice 2 features 6 different classes: assault, medic, heavy, sniper, recon and demolished. Each one of these classes comes with its own set of equipment, abilities and weapons, allowing it to fill a specific role inside the team.
Not Every Bullets Hits the Target
Red Solstice 2 isn’t, unfortunately, without some faults: first and foremost, the game’s interfaces are often more difficult to navigate than the missions’ maps themselves. And then there are the controls. Oh, the controls. For the way the title is set up, you have different options when it comes to controls: you always move by clicking RMB (Right Mouse Button), but then you select the enemy to attack with LMB, which is messy, especially if you are moving away from a wave of enemies, a situation that requires a lot of back and forth mouse movement. Alternatively, you can shoot manually by activating the manual fire mode, but this doesn’t really solve the issue, since you are stuck with the RMB for movement. A third option is the activation of overwatch: a mode that allows your soldier to automatically aim and shoot at enemies, which however doesn’t allow you to select the most important targets. I strongly believe that, in this case, a control scheme that would use the WASD keys for movement would be infinitely superior, something that is also showed by the clean controls of games like Helldivers.
Red Solstice 2: Survivors is an unforgiving title that will be able to please the fans of the original game and to introduce new players to the series. While the experience is, overall, a little bit unpolished, the core of the game is very solid. In one month, Ironward will have to revamp the interface and, hopefully, also redesign the movement controls. Overall, this is one of June titles to keep an eye on.