This Sol 75 review has probably been the toughest review I’ve done of late. I feel quite divided in that there is a lot of love that has gone into the game, but equally, it’s quite a disjointed tale that may divide fellow adventurers.
As the game has been tweaked with over the years since the first release, the story does feel a bit fragmented, and any message gets lost along the way.
Sol 75 Review
When it comes to action games we use Dark Souls as a benchmark; futuristic racers are Wipeout, football is FIFA (though it shouldn’t be) and point and click adventures is either LucasArts or Sierra. Or both!
It’s hard not to compare any newer title with the likes of The Secret of Monkey Island, Space Quest or perhaps, Simon the Sorcerer. Sol 75 clearly has ties with these classics, but it doesn’t attempt to emulate them. Instead, it has this charming personality that makes it distinctively Sol 75.
To summarise the story, coherently, would be a challenge in itself. In a nutshell, it’s a game set in the 70s where you mostly play Meeno. Stuck in what seems to be a summer prison camp for kids, you eventually stumble upon your brother who blackmails you into finding him a new bass player. If you don’t, he’ll tell your dad about your poor school report. SOB.
After a quite bizarre escape attempt, you start making progress towards finding the new member, encountering some quirky characters and even more quirkier puzzles.
Though it has a familiar feel of a point and click adventure with the option to inspect or use an item, it’s illogical inventory usage was perplexing at best.
Items can be picked up, inspected and used on several objects and people, such as Meeno’s go-to tool, the hypnotic yo-yo. Very cool. You can combine objects too, but there’s no real hints or logic on what should work.
For my entire playthrough, I had the hints system on. What that means is you hold down the spacebar to highlight points of interest as it’s not intuitive what is interactive and what is not. But, in Sol 75’s defence, a lot of point and clicks take that approach.
You play different characters in the game – mostly Meeno, but you play a professor too, who could have been taken out of the game and it wouldn’t have made much difference. I found him to be the weakest character in the game and unrelatable.
Meeno, on the other hand, was fun. He was irritable, naive and like any teen, wanted something fun to do. I particularly liked the voice acting for him and the NPCs. They had a certain charm about them that felt like they weren’t trying to impress but naturally positive and kept you engaged.
The respective dialogue was mostly good, but there were occasions where the words would be repeated and the response a little incoherent to what was being asked. Equally, the dialogue selections you choose don’t match what is said and will either have the wrong meaning or worded in such a way that it was unnatural.
We’re familiar with point and click protagonists breaking that fourth wall and addressing us for our incompetence, but in Sol 75, it’s mostly the same. When stuck, which happened a lot, Meeno would repeat “Naaaah!” every time I’d try to combine items or use on whatever is available. It got quite irritating in the end.
But generally speaking, the voice acting was excellent, the music even better. It was upbeat and felt like it was energising me in some ways. Unfortunately, the visuals didn’t match this.
Sol 75 feels very fragmented as if different people completed it at different times. The story doesn’t really make sense, and half the time, it wasn’t clear what I should have been doing other than finding a bass player.
It didn’t help that the sound was very good, the visuals not so much. It was quite hit and miss in some respects. Now and then, the character talking will have a talking head image above them which looked like something out of a novel. The art style was excellent but different from the cute children’s story characters you play.
While the visuals and animation have been polished for this release, the frame rate of animation is minimal, and characters float across the screen or merge into objects such as when Meeno slips on oil and ends up in a car unintentionally. It felt a little dated, not in an intentional retro way.
These inconsistencies are apparent in the dialogue as well, with one early conversation mentioning that nobody buys vinyl anymore. As this is set in the 70s, I was a bit surprised as CDs didn’t come out until the following decade, and what with disco music et al., it seemed a bit off when the game has such a strong musical theme. Even one of the proposed bassists talks about being a New Romantic, which again, started a few years later (the late 70s – Sol75 is mid-70s).
I’m reading too much into it.
My understanding of Argentina is simply excellent football and fishing. While I wasn’t putting too many expectations on the game, I was hopeful of an insight into a place I’ve never been.
I liked the environments – the simplicity where it didn’t have the modern technology we have now such as mobiles and computers, and there was a sort of innocence about it.
In that respect, Sol 75 captures teenage angst pretty well, and as mentioned, the characters are mostly likeable, and I’d be more than happy to hang around in this world they occupy for much longer.
Unfortunately for me, the problems were mostly the disjointed story and illogical puzzles. While I’d never boast and say that I find point and click adventures super easy, I can often handle myself but found that I was getting stuck far too much in this game.