What is love? That’s not really what the guys on Saturday Night Live were thinking (yes, I’m getting really old now). Love can be difficult to describe and is often described as indescribable. So when a game emerges and attempts to explore the theme of love in an introspective way through an interactive experience, it needs to be fleshed out. Once you look at Solo: Island of the Heart for the Nintendo Switch, are we going to find love, understand the meaning of love, or just love to finish this game?
Solo: Island of the Heart is a game built on a journey of understanding love and reflecting life. The game is based on a bit of puzzle mechanics, exploration, and definitely has a narrative purpose. Looking at the screenshots, you could even compare it to The Witness, but the puzzles aren’t nearly as difficult, and the game looks more like a walking simulation while I’m at it.
At the beginning of the game you have to answer a series of questions as truthfully and confidently as possible. You will be asked some introductory questions that question the story, such as B.: are you a man, a woman, non-binary, and are you in love, have you been in love, do you think love is meaningless, etc.? From there, the game unfolds its storyline, personalized based on your entry tiles.
After this introduction, it won’t take long to find your happy little avatar on a colorful and vibrant island. As you walk around, you’ll learn some basic lessons, like how to deal with the little creatures, and most importantly what your secondary objectives are in the game. You see, the island you’re on is actually part of a much larger archipelago that unfolds more and more as you complete each level/island task. However, the goal is always the same: You have to find and activate the tag and then communicate with the totem character, who then asks you a pretty deep question about love and your experience with three multiple choice answers about how best to answer.
As you travel, you will find that simple puzzle mechanisms in the form of various boxes come into play on each island. They range from very simple standard boxes that can be lifted and moved, to fan boxes and other multi-stage mechanics. You will often have to reach high peaks to get to the Lighthouse or Totem, and to get to these places you will have to solve problems while using crates to trade. You also get handy tools, like a magic wand that allows you to teleport yourself out of the boxes. These puzzles aren’t exactly linear, which is good, and you can find unique ways to place boxes around them and solve what you need, though it’s not really applicable to go too far apart. Personally, I liked the puzzles because they weren’t that hard, and I gave the game a bit more momentum to let you stay on the island a bit longer while you look around and enjoy the scenery a bit.
Many of the islands in Solo have secondary objectives in the form of interactions with beautiful creatures in a difficult situation. For example, on an earlier island, I helped meet two small creatures when the bridge connecting them collapsed. It was a reunion with family members and it helped to impress the theme of the game even more.
You can also take pictures of yourself at will with the in-game camera, and if you want you can play the guitar while walking. Some creatures like that. These side shows are inviting, but I couldn’t help but feel like they had just invaded. I would love to see longer stories with some of the animals, but I haven’t met them myself yet.
It’s hard to call this game a story, as it’s more of an internal reflection and reaction than a typical linear plot or even a game with a branching story. When you talk to Totem, he asks you how you feel in certain situations. For example, I was asked a question about the length of love. I’ve decided on an answer that I think could take forever. Soon after, I found my ghostly companion, representing my beloved, on the couch. When I had a conversation with her, she refuted my answer, which was about a topic that encompassed many islands. When I spoke of my feelings, she contradicted me. It was weird for me. I admitted that I liked it, and I was asked if I should think that way. It’s an interesting narrative path that can make you think about your choices and how someone else might react. I think the goal here is to ask the player if love feels like he thinks it does. This further reinforces the need to answer honestly to remove the impact the game is trying to have.
It’s a game you absolutely must play with an open mind. If you’re here for a basic gameplay experience, you have a walking simulation with simple puzzle mechanics. That’s clearly not the point. By engaging yourself from an inner perspective and answering questions that make you think about love and relationships, you will play. It’s not a very long game, and if you’re a fan of games like Journey, Witness or Flower – which are based on relaxed gameplay and reflection time – Solo : Heart Island can challenge your love ideals and what it can ultimately be.
Solo: Isles of the Heart View
- Charts – 6.5/10
- Sound – 5.5/10
- Gameplay – 6/10
- Late complaint – 5/10
Final thoughts : WARNINGS
Solo: Heart Island is an introspective journey to ask how we love and to understand the different ways love can manifest. Filled with light puzzle and exploration elements, this game can be a more relaxing gang simulator than anything else. The $20 price is a bit high for the included content.
Alex has been in the game industry since the release of Nintendo. He’s turned his hobby into a career, spending just over a decade developing games and now serving as creative director of the studio.
How to load…
solomon islands, solo: islands of the heart, solo: islands of the heart walkthrough, solo: islands of the heart trophy guide, solo islands of the heart steam, solo: islands of the heart ps4