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Solar Ash (from developers of Hyper Light Drifter - 2 December 2021 for PlayStation consoles/PC) - reviews posted

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Solar Ash Kingdom is the second game from Heart Machine, the creators of the award winning 2016 game Hyper Light Drifter.


Journey through a surreal, vivid and highly stylized world filled with mystery, wild high-speed traversal, endearing characters, and massive enemy encounters.



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  • 8 months later...
  • Commissar SFLUFAN changed the title to Solar Ash (from developers of Hyper Light Drifter) - Gameplay Reveal Trailer (PS4/PS5/EGS)
  • 6 months later...

Heart Machine's new 3D action platformer looks great, but this is a game in motion, and I want to know how it feels.



More so than other games, Solar Ash begs for interaction. Rei's easy, rhythmic slide across the landscape and her zip-lining over gaps or into enemies is sometimes interrupted. There are moments when a combat combo doesn't come off quite right, or a bit of platforming requires a stop-and-start. In those moments, it looks a bit awkward. But I also don't know what it's like to be in control of that, to try and build up a flow state, to be dropped out and have to feel my way back in again. All this demo did was make me want to steal the controls myself to understand it better.


Solar Ash looks very good, and Heart Machine have earned more than a bit of our trust. But you already knew both those things. "It's hard to describe good feeling in a game when you can't feel it yourself," as Preston himself said during the demo. "You know it when you play it."




Creator Alx Preston shares more details about 'Solar Ash's world, its approach to storytelling, and its unlikely sources of inspiration.



Solar Ash tosses you into the swift shoes of of Rei, a Voidrunner exploring a black hole. It’s a trippy, neon-spattered landscape — imagine a 3D, monster’s grotto version of Earthbound’s alt-reality Moonside. Traversal is the focus here, and as Rei you’ll weave nimbly along tendrils of light, fling yourself down cavernous wells, and launch yourself sword-first at bulbous-butted space spiders.


While there’s plenty to see in the lonely world of Solar Ash, this isn't a “stop and smell the roses” kind of experience. Sure, the void is dotted with little caves and chambers, where you’ll learn more about the Rei and her bleak surroundings. But you won’t linger anywhere for too long, and numerous areas will require you to complete timed puzzle elements in order to progress forward.




Solar Ash emphasizes movement over combat to create dance-like combat and boss battles.



Heart Machine mentioned speedrunning at various points during the demo, and that inspiration really shows. The bits I saw were fast and fluid, with Rei rarely stopping to move unless it was to talk to an NPC or upgrade her gear. The game features timed challenges, too, forcing players to master its movement to proceed. There’s one moment during the demo session that best encapsulates what players can expect from Solar Ash. At one point, a developer invokes the master of speed himself, Sonic, joking that she’s “gotta go fast.”




Solar Ash is designed with a high skill ceiling, pushing you to use simple movements in more advanced ways over time.



I recently got the chance to attend a hands-off preview for Solar Ash to get eyes on how the game looked outside an orchestrated trailer. Despite the seemingly effortless movement behind protagonist Rei's actions, there was a palpable tension surrounding her as she skated over clouds, grinded across rails, and dashed from one end of a room to another. Since I didn't have the chance to try out the game myself, I couldn't tell, but it seemed as if every movement was carefully calculated.


With how graceful Rei was moving through the level, it all looked rather simple. But if the repeated efforts to correctly maneuver through the same time-based puzzle or multiphase boss fight were any indication, Solar Ash is anything but simple.




Heart Machine says it won't be as hard, and it's definitely not a sequel



If you played Hyper Light Drifter, you got your ass kicked by Hyper Light Drifter. Heart Machine’s top-down action RPG was a bona fide gauntlet designed to run you through the wringer (a lot) before you acclimated to its resolutely unforgiving peculiarities. So you might be pleased to hear that the studio’s sophomore effort, Solar Ash, a 3D platformer planned for the fall, won’t be quite so punishing.



Solar Ash is eye-catching but seems to lack some of the poignancy Hyper Light Drifter had (Eurogamer)



It all adds up to Solar Ash feeling tonally quite different to Hyper Light Drifter. That's not a shock - this was never intended to be a sequel - but it is noticeably lighter and broader in appeal than the previous game was, and, I think, less distinct because of it. Maybe it's a product of simply being a bigger production than before, and having more people dilute the idea. Alx Preston even seems to suggest this was the case, saying the personal story Solar Ash began with evolved as more people came on board.


That's not to say Solar Ash is shallow. There's still meaning in there, particularly around the idea of scale and our feeling small, as we all sometimes do in reality, and it's imaginative and bizarre to look at. But will it linger in the mind as long as Drifter did?


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  • Commissar SFLUFAN changed the title to Solar Ash (from developers of Hyper Light Drifter - 26 October 2021 for PlayStation consoles/PC) - new previews posted
  • 2 months later...

Game Information

Game Title: Solar Ash


  • PC (Dec 2, 2021)
  • PlayStation 4 (Dec 2, 2021)
  • PlayStation 5 (Dec 2, 2021)

Developer: Heart Machine


Publisher: Annapurna Interactive

Review Aggregator

OpenCritic - 80 average - 82% recommended

Critic Reviews

Attack of the Fanboy - 4.5 / 5 stars


Solar Ash is a contemplative experience, visual feast, and faced-paced thrill ride expertly wrapped up into one exhilarating adventure. Without a doubt, this game is one of the best indie games of 2021, if not the best.

GameSkinny - 9 / 10 stars


Solar Ash is a complete package, with stellar gameplay, a well-told story, and a realized world ripe for exploring.

Gamepur - 9 / 10


Influences from other games are quite present in Solar Ash — Tony Hawk's line-following, Super Mario Galaxy's wraparound camera, Shadow of the Colossus's massive bosses. While those together may seem incongruous, they come together to make it an exciting, fast-paced platformer that gives you the tools to move smoothly and complete the challenges before you. It's so satisfying to nail those obstacle courses, clear anomalies, and topple skyscraping Remnants. The roller coaster of Solar Ash is well worth riding.

GamesRadar+ - 4.5 / 5 stars


Solar Ash is a platforming playground that never loses steam, and it hides a memorable story of unfathomable tragedy.

Hardcore Gamer - 4.5 / 5


Solar Ash is another triumph from Heart Machine, a fast-paced burst of vibrant, surreal science fiction where players get to glide and jump around fascinating worlds with terrific bits of platforming and action spread out across a series of unique worlds with jaw-dropping visuals.

Metro GameCentral - 9 / 10


An excellent sci-fi platformer with exquisite art design and sublime traversal mechanics, which finds distinctive ground among its obvious inspirations.

Press Start - 9 / 10


By making Solar Ash radically different from Hyper Light Drifter, Heart Machine has avoided boxing themselves into a niche while being able to continue and build a universe they clearly care for. It wears its influences on its sleeve and comes together as a cosmic mix of a few games held dear by many, and as long as they continue to do this, I'll eat it up until I am far beyond full.

Everyeye.it - Italian - 8.8 / 10


Solar Ash comes at the end of the games, with the Top 10 of 2021 already compiled and the nominations for the various year-end awards already awarded, and that's a shame. Because it is one of those endings with a bang in a complicated and fluctuating year, which has undoubtedly given us pearls, but which also feels on the rump the difficulties and challenges that the pandemic has added to the already difficult universe of game development.

Game Informer - 8.8 / 10


Solar Ash plays as well as it looks with a strong story at the heart

Digital Trends - 4 / 5 stars


Graceful movement and jaw-dropping fights against colossal monsters make Solar Ash a worthy follow-up to Hyper Light Drifter.

Easy Allies - 8 / 10


While its inspirations are clear, Solar Ash complements its massive boss fights with agility, strong level design, and bold visuals.

GameSpot - 8 / 10


Solar Ash is an exhilarating action-adventure game with strong puzzles and flashy boss fights.

Twinfinite - 4 / 5


If you have a few hours to spend and want to play something that is unlike anything else this year, then Solar Ash is absolutely worth checking out. Anyone who is a fan of the action-adventure genre will no doubt enjoy this memorable experience.

VGC - 4 / 5 stars


Solar Ash is a highly original open-plan platform game. A slim move set that rewards momentum is the perfect means of exploring its swirling, broken landscapes and executing its more exacting challenges. While some of its elements feel overly simple, that doesn’t detract hugely from a clinically focused and fresh experience.

Sirus Gaming - 7.5 / 10


Solar Ash is at its best when you can skate a line perfectly and enter that satisfying flow state where nothing can stop you. The only thing Solar Ash asks of you is to fall into its groove and fall in love with its style, and if you can do that, you will have a wonderful time.

GameSpew - 7 / 10


There’s a lot more to Solar Ash than simply gliding and grinding around its luscious world, but by god is it good fun.

IGN - 7 / 10


Solar Ash may not get everything right, but its kinetic platforming and incredibly stylish presentation make its world a lot of fun to explore.

Push Square - 7 / 10


Solar Ash pushes for a sense of momentum and fluidity with its take on 3D platforming, and it does work very well indeed.

Wccftech - 7 / 10


Solar Ash makes a good first impression with its silky-smooth controls, eye-catching visuals, and bombastic boss battles, but a lack of character progression or changes to core mechanics eventually drains some of the life from the game. Solar Ash is a solid action-platformer, but it doesn't really rise above the many other indies occupying the same space, and ultimately, you may find your memories of the game disappearing rather swiftly into the void.

Destructoid - 6 / 10


Solar Ash offers a collection of promising concepts that don’t quite hit realization. While undoubtedly a visually striking experience, Rei’s journey into the Ultravoid suffers due to a disengaging narrative and repetitious gameplay. Solar Ash’s attractive world struggles to provide the player with captivating experiences. The elements do occasionally come together, however, ensuring that while Solar Ash isn’t quite the adventure it might have been, it successfully retains unmistakable Heart Machine charm.

VG247 - 3 / 5 stars


It's not far from being a bit special, the kind of indie gem that everyone has to play, but it's unfortunately just not quite there.

Eurogamer - Recommended


This glorious game about movement and adventure also feels like a rumination on something deeper and more personal.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Unscored


An action-adventure that sees you topple big monsters with your rollerblades. It's stylish and oh-so-smooth when it gets in the flow, but is hampered by repetition.

The Escapist - Unscored


Video Review - Quote not available


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  • Commissar SFLUFAN changed the title to Solar Ash (from developers of Hyper Light Drifter - 2 December 2021 for PlayStation consoles/PC) - reviews posted
  • 7 months later...

Coming to Steam and Game Pass December 6




On 7/19/2022 at 7:36 PM, Keyser_Soze said:

It's certainly an exclusive and assumed it will come to other platforms later.

If you want to test this theory see if Solar Ash comes to other platforms in December.


@SoberChef Just mentioned this last week in the Stray thread. 🤔


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I finally played Solar Ash a month ago. I'm a big fan of the studio's previous indie game Hyper Light Drifter and while in some ways this is a completely different kind of game, in other ways it's exactly the same, and I thought the game was stellar and anyone who liked Hyper Light Drifter or enjoys really fun 3D platformers should play this. The poor initial reviews the game has received, particularly from audiences, boggles my mind. Critics at least seemed to think it was at least above average, but even they didn't love it. I think this is better than the reviews say it is. The game isn't particularly hard even on its hardest difficulty level except the need to master the game's intentionally floaty physics during the boss battles. I had a blast with this game and it's not too long either. In terms of tone, atmosphere, vibe, the way the story is told, and more, the game is very similar to Hyper Light Drifter. It's also a game that is a metaphor for dealing with difficult problems and dark thoughts, and the music is still amazing by Disasterpiece (Fez, Hyper Light Drifter, It Follows). 

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  • 10 months later...
1 minute ago, ShreddieMercury said:

Checking in three years later...


Did anyone else play this?  I see it's on sale during Days of Play, and I'm desperately looking for something for my new PS5, which seems so far like a bit of a worthless purchase.


I played it and liked it! I reviewed it in my post directly above yours (from July 2022).

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4 minutes ago, ShreddieMercury said:


I would like to be excited about their next project, but it's a roguelike so I'm immediately out.


Ugh I didn't know that. If they do it somewhat akin to how Hades or Returnal did it I'm still interested. But if it's all randomized nonsense, etc. I'm not too interested. Co-op is back from Hyper Light Drifter at least.

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