Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

Fortunately or unfortunately, today no one will sit for Dear Esther for more than half an hour. The walking simulator genre has evolved and has become demanding of all sorts of accents that distinguish one work from the background of others. For example, the authors of Kursk hyped the topic of the death of a Russian submarine, and the developers of Layers of Fear achieved a frightening effect with minimal interactivity. Someone impresses the audience with artistic talent, and someone with plot intrigue. As for the creators of Close to the Sun, they have three trump cards up their sleeve at once – high style, mean screamers and parallels with the cult BioShock. The approach is original, but is it really good?

Rapture 2.0

Imagine an alternate world where inventor Nikola Tesla succeeded. His cars have become in demand everywhere, half the Earth is hooked on wireless electricity, unmanned ships plow the ocean, and the Wardenclyffe project has grown to the richest corporation. Not content with what he had achieved, the scientist built a ship the size of a city and named it Helios. All the luminaries of science of the late 19th century were invited on board – with the help of a colorful crew, the captain set out to build a future without wars and the struggle for resources. To protect his offspring, he even installed a superweapon on the liner – a death ray capable of incinerating an entire fleet in an instant.Close to the Sun game review

You can admire the interiors of Helios forever.

So everyone would have lived happily ever after if the journalist Rose Archer had not received a letter from her younger sister Ada, an employee of the Helios physics laboratory. Ada invited a relative to visit and said that the floating city would really change reality. Well, who would refuse such a report? Packing up, Rose boarded an unmanned steamboat and single-handedly made her way to the wave-cutting hulk about which so many rumors circulated.

But already in the cargo hold, delight gives way to fear. The heroine discovers that the ship is deserted, devastation reigns on the decks, and many mechanisms are out of order. Traveling through the gloomy halls, collecting documents and newspaper clippings, Rose bit by bit restores the course of events before her visit. It turns out that Tesla went crazy, accused his rival Thomas Edison of espionage and threw his forces into searching for enemy agents among the crew members. Suspects were tortured and killed. And so that everyone understands who is in charge here, the inventor equipped a museum named after himself on board, with a golden statue and exhibits on display. He also voiced the text of the tour: “My precious death ray,” says the voice with the intonations of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.

Close to the Sun game review

What kind of death do you like: fast, slow or “like her”?

Do you think that’s all? But no: the story acquires new details as soon as Rose begins to see ghosts. The luminous silhouettes act out scenes from the past, and from their conversations it becomes clear that Tesla, among other things, was inciting wedges to Ada Archer. Ada herself contacts her sister via a receiver earpiece and declares that she has never sent any letter. And if they did, it was not in this dimension – it was all the fault of the experiments with time that the scientists on the ship were doing. How then to understand the ghostly pantomimes and the corpses of their participants – like those musicians who crouched in the orchestra pit of the theater? Close to the Sun is scary not so much with the sights of mutilated bodies, sounds and shadows, but with a sharp transition from detective to horror.

House of cards

Storm in a Teacup staff responsible for the game know how to impress the gamer. They achieved a oppressive atmosphere, came up with a crazy plot in a good way and created majestic levels, designed at the intersection of art deco and steampunk. Even the puzzles are simple and enjoyable. And where the authors are not up to par, they at least keep the traditions of the genre. For example, the heroine is clumsy and slow, like a tank from the First World War, so you need to move strictly with the Shift key pressed. Looking at the arthritic pace, viscous control and five-centimeter jumps, you think of only one thing: Lord Jesus, holy saints, if only there was no action here. And what do you think?Close to the Sun game review

There he is, the nasty fellow.

At some point, a psychopath appears who brandishes a knife, pursues Rose and blames her for all the troubles of Helios. This convulsive running around harshly emphasizes the flaws of the gameplay. Say, in a theater you need to climb from balcony to balcony along a narrow rafter. You fall, start again, and somewhere on the third attempt, you get to the right site. At the same time, the reason for the failures remains a mystery – all three times you performed the same actions. But it is one thing to face such problems in a calm environment. And quite another – with a crazy killer behind him. Either he overtakes the heroine in the middle of the corridor, then at the end, or he cannot catch up at all, although the running speed and route do not change.

There are a huge number of ambitious developers in the world, but they all step on a common rake – as soon as they show the product in person and reveal their creative potential, they start to smack the fever. Many would like to combine BioShock, Layers of Fear and Outlast, a horror attraction with an action movie, and the second Stalker with the fourth Witcher. However, there are matters that should not be touched. It’s not that they were tabooed – it’s just that the implementation of plans can take much more resources and effort than originally thought. And require a team of 15 people to jump above their heads. And the result is a Frankenstein monster, sewn from pieces of different sizes and qualities.

This, of course, is not a review, but a preview based on the impressions of the demo. But so that the charm of Close to the Sun does not crumble due to trifles, like a house of cards, it is not a sin for the authors to reconsider the methods of mixing different mechanics and genres. As a walking simulator, the game is just great, but it still lacks speed, drive, and intuitiveness for sensible action. In other words, work with the engine, animation and other boredom, without due attention to which dozens of bold releases have ingloriously perished. Neither the democratic price nor the original aesthetics will save the product if the players stumble over annoying roughness.

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