Deep in international waters, the Helios stands still. Dark clouds loom overhead as unforgiving waves crash against the hull. Colossal effigies of gold, decorated with magnificent finery, stretch as far as the eye can see.

Born of Nikola Tesla’s vision, the Helios serves as a haven for the greatest scientific minds. An unbound utopia for research, independent from state and isolated from the gaze of society. Free to push the boundaries of matter and time.

Journalist Rose Archer steps aboard the Helios in search of her sister Ada. She quickly discovers not all is as it seems. Grand halls stand empty. The stench of rotting flesh lingers in the air.

In the end, your enjoyment of Close to the Sun will depend on whether you want to be surprised. If you’ve played some of the previously mentioned games, you know exactly what to expect in terms of pacing and story, even if the subject matter is different. The lack of combat is an interesting choice, but the simple puzzles and slightly frustrating chase sequences dull the experience, while the inability to view collectibles after you leave a level significantly diminishes their value.

Although it conflates and confuses a lot of historical reality to conform to its alternative universe, Close to the Sun really impresses in a few key areas. It looks incredible and is founded on a solid story concept. Some of its puzzles, mechanics and pacing issues get it in the way and remind the player that moving through the world needs to be just as satisfying as looking at the world. Fans of “walking simulators” and BioShock will feel at home but Close to the Sun does a good job of creating its own identity despite the obvious influences.

Despite BioShock trappings, Close to the Sun is a straightforward adventure with a pinch of puzzles, veering dangerously close to being labeled as a walking simulator.

Even if Close to the Sun offers a nice steampunk atmosphere and a worthy story, the basic gameplay and rudimentary puzzles are not enough to keep the player hooked long enough. Consider it during a strong sale.

Close to the Sun is a game that’s only remarkable for its scenery. And it’s a shame, really, as the Helios could have carried a great tale. As it is though, while there’s nothing about Close to the Sun that’s broken, there’s nothing compelling enough to make it worth your while, especially with its short run time and lack of replayability.

 

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