Fort Solis Review – Space Trek

While there’s no shortage of narrative-driven games right now, developers Fallen Leaf Studios and Black Drakkar Games are throwing their hat into the ring with Fort Solis — a story-driven thriller set in outer space. It’s important to note that before diving in to Fort Solis, people should know what kind of game it is and what it’s not. If you’re jumping in, expecting another Dead Space-esque experience, you’ll be sorely disappointed, as Fort Solis falls more in line with Supermassive’s games (The Quarry, Devil in Me) than any other sci-fi action game.

However, even with expectations firmly kept in check, Fort Solis manages to stumble more often than we’d like before reaching its very abrupt finish line.

This Is Major Tom to Ground Control, Come In?

The year is 2080. Humankind’s exploration into the unknown has brought them to the planet of Mars, where they have successfully established a mining operation in order to mine the planet for important resources, and conduct several kinds of experiments, away and secluded from the people of Earth. After intercepting an alarm signal, crew members Jack Leary and Jessica Appleton set out to investigate the Mars station, only to come to the terrifying realization that what was once a thriving community of miners, has now gone completely dormant, as the halls of Fort Solis are filled with dead air of silence. It’s here where the mystery of Fort Solis begins, as Jack and Jessica set out to unravel this frightful mystery — but they’re not the only things lurking in the base.

Fort Solis gameplay

Despite being considered an indie game, Fort Solis is built as an AAA experience, which manages to pull some of gaming’s top talent, with cast members Troy Baker (Joel from The Last of Us) and Roger Clark (Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption 2) leading alongside TV actress Julie Brown who makes her video game debut in Fort Solis. 

With big names like that, you’d expect a performance of a lifetime, which is exactly what you get, as all three give it their all, delivering compelling performances that perfectly capture the story that Fallen Leaf wants to tell. 

And a bulk of that story gets told through the visuals of Fort Solis, which are an absolute showcase of what this generation of gaming may have in store for us. Trekking across Mars in a rover had me in awe as the beautiful landscape of Mars was put for show, producing some of the best visuals I’ve seen out of a title this generation. But as you approach Fort Solis, the mood suddenly changes, illustrated by the incredible use of lighting, shadows, and coloring.

Once inside, a sense of dread begins to creep over you as you wonder where everyone has disappeared to. It’s the feeling you get when you go out for a night stroll in a city that is lively during the day, now dead silence. You shouldn’t feel creeped out, but you do, as any subtle sound heard, and your mind begins to wonder who’s watching you from the shadows. A slow descent into paranoia that Fort Solis perfectly captures with visuals and exemplifies through every member of the cast. 

Hearing the cracks in the character’s voices as they try to maintain composure through the abandoned base. Their breathing becoming more and more sporadic with every step taken, every corner they turned, and every door opened. In some ways, it’s a feeling of claustrophobia, as large corridors suddenly felt as if they would begin to close around you, only for a new fear to set in as you wonder what awaits at the end.

Despite your short time with them, the characters all play their roles perfectly with their relatable range of emotions that get shown in full throughout the campaign. Fallen Leaf wanted to deliver a story-driven experience, which they have done masterfully. But that does bring us to the next part, and that’s what Fort Solis offers in terms of gameplay.

Horrors of the Red Planet

If I’m honest, I’m not exactly sure what kind of game Fort Solis wants to be. On the one hand, it wants to be a compelling story-driven experience, which it undoubtedly achieves. On the other though, looking beyond the story, the visuals, and the characters, the question then becomes, what exactly does Fort Solis offer in terms of gameplay? Well, almost nothing unless you count being the world’s slowest person in the worst possible situation as something. 

Now, in all fairness, Fallen Leaf has mentioned that Fort Solis is closer to the walking simulator games genre. It was an expectation they set beforehand, so the expectation of it being more than that isn’t one I had. Still, one can’t help but feel that the walking aspect of the game is a bit overdrawn, if not forced in for padding purposes, as the character moves at the pace of a snail, despite their dire situation. If I showed up at a base under lockdown and saw several dead bodies, I probably wouldn’t be strolling around like it’s an everyday occurrence. The walking speed is tortuously slow, almost as if you’re forced to follow an NPC who refuses to run, only there’s no one but you there. It’s like walking in place — figuratively, but you get the picture, and it’s like that for the full campaign, which lasts a little over three hours.

One of the main goals is to upgrade your security clearance, and as you level it up, you’ll be able to access more locations in the base. Some of those locations are in areas you’ve been to already, and let me tell you, backtracking to them felt like such a drag. I get it; you’re in a space suit, so you should move slower, but there are plenty of moments throughout the campaign to show that isn’t why you move slowly. I know what the studio wanted to achieve, as the slow movement speed helps set the tone of the setting, but having a slightly faster walking speed or light jog could have gone a long way without ruining that experience. 

There are also (Quick-Time Events) QTEs that get introduced early on, as well as puzzles. This gave me the impression that we’d be getting an interactive adventure, much like the ones developed by the likes of Quantic Dreams (Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human) and Telltales Games (Walking Dead, Batman, Wold Among Us,) but boy, was I wrong. These felt far from one another, and when you got a section that featured them, it would only be a few presses to the point that you’d question why it’s even there. There don’t appear to be many consequences with failing a QTE either. I replayed a few sections, and despite pressing the wrong QTE prompt, my character would correct their path and eventually come to the same point as they would have with successful presses. It would play differently, but the characters still stuck to the script.

So then, all you have is walking and collecting audio, video, and text logs. It’s not the most engaging thing for players to do, and once you get past the visuals and the story, you have to ask yourself, what is here? Not a whole lot, sadly.  


Fort Solis delivers a dark, high-tension, suspense-filled thriller driven by its incredibly realistic next-gen visuals, compelling character performances, and well-written writing. If this were an episode in a long-running sci-fi series, it’d be amongst my favorites and highly rated. However, seeing that this is a video game, it’s hard to recommend Fort Solis due to its little gameplay. Most of it’s walking, with few QTEs here and there, but it all serves as padding that eventually overstays its welcome. 

Fort Solis Release Date

The opening hours will have you in awe as it takes you through the gorgeous and ominous landscape of the red planet of Mars, but slowly, you’ll come to the realization that there really is nothing waiting for you on Mars.

Score: 5.5/10


  • A breathtaking showcase – Unreal Engine 5 is in full display, giving us a real ook at what the engine can push graphically.
  • Story – You’ll constantly be on the edge of your seat.
  • Incredible performances from all the cast members. They truly tie everything together.


  • Little gameplay that isn’t forced padding. QTE’s might as well not even exist given how short and in-between they are.
  • Repetitive – Sure, it’s best described as a walking simulator, so walking is the core of it, but it ends up throwing the pacing off and makes backtracking an absolute bore.
  • It’s short – Everyone will have their own opinions when it comes to game lengths and pricing. I don’t mind short games, but with what little else it provides outside the story, there’s not much a reason to ever want to come back to it. It truly feels like a one and done experience that could have benefited more as episodic releases.

Fort Solis review (PS5) code was provided by the publisher. You can read MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.

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