Solo: Islands of the Heart is a simple, reflecting tale of love. You begin the game by choosing your gender (which can be male, female or non-binary), as well as your sexual orientation in the form of which partner you would select.
Levels are puzzle based and require you to navigate your way around each archipelago to a small lighthouse, which will then awaken the totem at the end. Totems will ask you a question about love, which you are encouraged to answer truthfully and from the heart. This inward look on yourself and your own feelings towards love is what takes place throughout the game as a story. It is far less narrative than it is reflective, and due to this could risk losing out on some of its target audience. Questions are posed to make you look inward, whilst the puzzles increase in their complexity to keep you from focusing too much on the questions themselves.
All throughout the game are ghostlike loops of your "loved one", whom you can slightly interact with in the form of sitting together on a bench (also getting them to reset the movable blocks if you need them to), rock on a swing together or drink from a water fountain with. Sometimes a small text bubble will appear from them, with a poignant message about love. These are cute little moments, and you'll find yourself actively looking out for wherever they might be.
The art-style itself is adorable, and the colours are so bright and poppy that the entire world looks lush and beautiful. It is enjoyable to wander through the Islands, and make friends with the various animals lurking around. There are dogs you can feed, seagulls you can photograph and hiding moles to chase after and pet. The sound design is well suited to the game, with a very relaxing, peaceful vibe to it.
Whilst playing I did run in to a few things that frustrated me slightly, mostly revolving around the blocks you have to move around to progress - and the camera angles often caused by doing so. A couple of times I had the blocks landing in awkward spots, and even with the use of the wand to locate them again, I still had a few issues where I would have to go reset the blocks entirely just to locate them all again. The wand definitely made things easier, as you can control this independently of your body, making awkward camera angles less of an issue.
Overall, that wasn't too much of a deal to make me dislike my time in Solo, and I definitely enjoyed the peaceful zen of playing this and just losing myself in the scenery, so I'd happily return to the game again for future playthroughs. If you like puzzle games, and ones you can just wander around in and figure out for yourself, then you'll enjoy this. If you need a prompt to tell you where to go and what to do next, you might find yourself irritated by the lack of direction - particularly as reloading a save puts you back to the start of an island, despite still recording all your progress, so it can be quite easy to lose track of where you need to be. Islands are small enough, and with differently designed areas, so this can help you to remember what areas you've completed. It's still an enjoyable time and very relaxing compared to most other games.
In the end, we decided to give Solo: Islands of the Heart the Collecting Asylum rating of 7/10.
Have you played Solo yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!
- V x