Fort Solis Review - Screenshot 1 of 4

There is something calming about a clichéd sci-fi horror, isn’t there? Abandoned space stations, eerie corridors, and the endless possibilities of danger make up a genre that has successfully infiltrated just about every format of entertainment. Fort Solis is just the latest, bringing with it a subdued sci-fi tale, voice acting royalty in the form of Roger Clark (Red Dead Redemption 2) and Troy Baker (The Last of Us), and a gameplay experience that is in parts enthralling and others excruciatingly tedious.

As we first walked the halls of the titular Fort Solis we couldn’t help but be reminded of sci-fi movie classics such as Sunshine, Moon, and even Event Horizon. Responding to a mysterious distress signal, engineer Jack Leary (Clark) makes his way to the Martian station to investigate. With its slow pacing and attention to detail, we were already on edge. Not because of anything we were seeing, but the possibility of what we were missing.

It’s an element of the game that its opening chapters capture so well, made all the better by the back and forth banter between Jack and his in-ear coworker Jessica, played to perfection by Julia Brown. As their conversation progresses from rubbish zombie TV shows to slight pangs of concern, there is a brilliant swelling of tension that only serves to amplify your curiosity.

Fort Solis Review - Screenshot 2 of 4

To satiate said curiosity, exploration is at the heart of the Fort Solis experience. You’ll be reading emails, noseying through personal belongings, watching video logs and generally taking in the environmental details of the station in the hope of discovering what happened to its crew. While nowhere near the density or quality, it does have echoes of games like Gone Home, where you’ll fill in a lot of the context of its story by taking in all those optional details. The likely problem for some is that exploring the station is about all there is to the game.

While certainly glammed up, Fort Solis is a walking simulator experience, meaning that there are no combat, puzzle, or stealth mechanics to the game. You’ll walk very slowly through the station — and no there isn’t even a “slightly faster walk” button. Despite this, the experience will take no longer than four hours to complete.

This in part is to the game’s benefit, as it allows us to enjoy a streamlined narrative experience, without being bogged down by crafting, weapon upgrading, or needlessly complex mechanics. However, as Fort Solis steadily expands, the game slows to a snail's pace with ventures to new areas taking several minutes at a time. The game tries its best to fill those moments with something, but more often than not you're left with a tedious slog as Jack ambles his way to his next location like he’s got all the time in the world. It can be jarring too, as the game will occasionally give you a spurt of action where you’ll speed through an entire area via a cutscene. Yet despite the dramatic nature of that moment, Jack goes right back to his leisurely walking pace.

Fort Solis Review - Screenshot 3 of 4

At times, you’ll also experience QTEs or button prompts to seemingly give the player something to do during moments of traversal or aforementioned spurts of action. However, thanks to their slick white design it’s so easy to miss these prompts, and a lack of audio cue means you never really know when they’re going to pop up. That then leaves the gameplay experience a pretty sparse one, which makes the game’s lacklustre second half all the more monotonous.

There is a fair amount of backtracking in Fort Solis as you open previously locked doors or level up your security clearance. Yet since traversal is something only for the most patient, we often questioned whether we really wanted to know what was behind those doors. In the latter parts of the game you also have the option to travel between buildings via the dusty surface or the claustrophobic tunnels. It’s a nice feature on paper, letting you choose your own level of horror, but it quickly devolves into “which way is quicker?”.

Traversal becomes all the more uninteresting once the narrative pulls back the veil. To us at least, it was pretty obvious what was going on about an hour or so in, and the game gradually does what you sort of expect — just three hours later. All forms of tension or anxiety that we felt in those opening chapters were gone by the final hour, and the credits (and post credit scene) quickly induced a shrug of the shoulders.

Fort Solis Review - Screenshot 4 of 4

It’s a shame because the central performances from Baker, Clark and Brown are all very good, actually. Troy Baker in particular delivers a brilliant and nuanced performance, which has to be commended since you witness most of it through video logs. The chemistry between Clark’s Jack and Brown’s Jessica also fuelled those opening chapters, so it was disappointing anytime they lost comms for narrative reasons.

The game is also a looker. Running on Unreal Engine 5, it’ll undoubtedly catch your eye at times with a fine balance between its animation, lighting, and visual detail. There is an option between a performance and quality mode, but we mostly stuck with performance. Performance struggles to maintain its higher framerate, but it is better than the severe dips that quality mode makes, partnered up with a weird blotchy effect to its visuals on certain surfaces.

And lastly, we were supremely disappointed by the lack of DualSense implementation in Fort Solis. The game is so sporadic with its use of the feature, where certain actions that don’t warrant it get a thick rumble, and other obvious moments are left with a disappointing emptiness. To us, DualSense being properly implemented into a walking sim experience like this would have certainly amplified that tension, or even helped out with the subtle button prompts.


Fort Solis starts out promising, with an eerie and mysterious narrative that just seems to get everything right. From environmental details to pacing, this opening act genuinely had us thinking we had a Firewatch or Everybody’s Gone To Rapture on our hands. However, as the game begins to expand, the pacing tanks, the story fumbles its way across the finish line, and the gameplay experience makes us want to throw our DualSense off the wall. There are a number of ways in which we should be impressed by the game — it’s made by a 10 person team after all — but in the end Fort Solis is an experience as dusty as the red planet itself.