Who likes puzzle games and synthwave?
Well, look no further than SOLAS 128; an indie game developed by Amicable Animal and published by Armour Games Studio.
The basic premise is a deflection game. You start in a room and need to reposition mirrors to guide a beam of light towards the exit. Once complete, the next room will open up and the process repeats. This isn’t always linear though as several rooms can interlock, requiring you to unlock them in a specific order, and to occasionally backtrack.
This premise starts off relatively straightforward where you just need to move the mirrors into the correct position. That’s easy, right? In concept, yes, but as you progress you’re introduced to more obstacles and you’re also given mirrors that rotate. Not all of them do this though, so you still need to work out what the very specific path and mirror combinations are. As you progress further in the game you also need to combine colours to make new ones, so it’s certainly not as straightforward as it initially seems. The game does, however, introduce these new mechanics at just the right time. You’re given plenty of time to get used to everything before it takes things up a notch. You’re always constantly combining and building upon everything you learnt. It really is a treat in this respect and made me feel very clever when I had a whole streak of working out the puzzles.
The game is challenging but there is the inclusion of a hint button. However, it does not outright give you the answer so, on occasion, serves as more of a tease. It will, however, give you the location of where up to 2 mirrors need to be placed. I felt this was sufficient to help you work out what to do without giving you the answer outright. I’m certainly not ashamed to admit that I used the hints on a couple of occasions, this is one of the more challenging puzzle games I have played.
One especially sneaky realisation I came to is that the mirrors are not necessarily confined to their rooms. On occasion, I was able to place the mirror at the edge of one room and drag it into the next. It’s little details like this which really stood out and elevated the quality of the gameplay experience. Without spoiling anything, there is an overall goal you’ll be working towards in this game, so it’s more than just a series of puzzle rooms.
Visually this game takes graphics to a whole new level of minimalistic, to the point where I initially found the main menu a little hard to interpret. The black background provides a really high contrast against the puzzle rooms and light beams, so there is literally nothing to distract you from solving the puzzles, other than your own attention span of course.
The beams also move to the beat of a synthwave track playing in the background. Although I do enjoy a bit of synthwave, the game repeatedly plays the same track on a loop at the beginning. After playing for a long period of time, it kinda burns itself onto your brain. You’ll end up humming it to yourself as it plays in a loop in your head while you try to sleep. As you progress through the game, there is a different track for each room, which adds variety. This is the only real criticism I had with the game though, and it’s a minor one at that.
I played this game on PC, and the controls were incredibly simple and easy to use. Simply click and drag on the mirror, then click on an exit to move onto the next room. This really is a game you can just pick up and play straight away.