The Red Solstice Review

The Red Solstice is a top-down tactical shooter set on the desolate and unwelcoming surface of Mars.

The Red Solstice on PC

Every now and again, I come across a game that defies my expectations. The Red Solstice, a tactical top-down shooter with a focus on squad cooperation and survival, definitely did. What I thought I was getting into, and what it seemed like at first, was something like a real-time strategy game reminiscent of some of the StarCraft squad-based missions. While there’s shades of that, The Red Solstice turned out to have quite a bit more to it, as well. A fantastic tactical mode, a variety of characters and enemies, and more, make it a unique and enjoyable experience.

Red Solstice Early Mission

Early single-player missions focus on a colony in peril. Sent to investigate, the squad must first meet up after being split on landing.

The Red Solstice offers some good variety of play, with a set of single-player missions to help new players get acclimated to the game and supply back story. The early going is very guided, with tutorial pop-ups guiding players through gathering their lost teammates and introducing the game systems, such as the crucial Tactical Mode. In this mode, play slows down significantly, and individual sqaud members can be issued commands. This gives players ample opportunity to set up defensive formations, spread out their forces, or establish a strategy for moving forward, all without halting play or hiding the action behind menus.

The Red Solstice Defensive Systems

The shield icons shown over the squad here represents a passive ability that increases defense when holding position.

To boost players’ chances for survival, The Red Solstice offers many RPG elements to improve your soldiers as they gain experience. Not only do characters level up, allowing upgrades to base stats, but energy collected can be used to improve a number of abilities that give the soldiers anything from increased critical hit chances, healing abilities, and more. The complex upgrade system provides great customization options, allowing players to specialize their soldiers for different roles within the squad. Diversifying too much may leave you lacking in focus, but the system works well if you’re attentive to the areas that you upgrade and mindful of keeping each soldier concentrated on tasks that suit their skills. A variety of class options, including heavy support, medic, and assault serve to add even more to this mix.

The Red Solstice Items

In addition to all-out combat, the use of items to clear paths or disable enemy spawn points is key.

In addition to the robust single-player experience, The Red Solstice offers online multiplayer to allow players to collaborate against the infestation of vicious foes on the surface of Mars. By including both a fully-featured single player experience and online play alongside great production, graphics, and sound, the $24.99 price on Steam is reasonable. Sure, it’s a bit higher than many of its indie brethren, but The Red Solstice is a cut above the average. Ironward’s Kickstarter-funded efforts have certainly paid off, and even as someone who doesn’t dabble much in real-time strategy style games, I thoroughly recommend at least checking out the demo available through the game’s official website.

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