Part 4 of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha collection is Sol Divide. So far this is the first time I’ve had to relinquish my Switch from the Flip Grip.
The main menu gives the option of four different difficulty settings from easy, normal, hard, to very hard. I’ve never played this game before so I will begin on easy. Three different characters are available to choose from. Their names are given but no other details. In nine seconds or less, you must judge your pick solely based on looks alone. I opted for Kashon, the flying purple beast angel looking monstrosity. A very short-lived scene occurs that states I must die, then the game begins.
There is a LOT going on from the get-go
I am very confused. I have no idea what the buttons are since the game threw me in with no hand-holding. Hit pause to see a familiar screen that is present on all Psikyo games, then to controller settings. Here you will learn what your character can do, as well as customise attacks to buttons of your choice. Just prior to this, enemies were swarming me. I’ve learned that you can use a magic attack, shot, and physical attack. Swap between magic using the left and right bumpers.
Typically older games are linear in their progression, and upon beating the first level I thought this wasn’t the case for Sol Divide. Once the first level is completed, two areas are presented giving the player the power of choice. With each level I beat it turns out the first choice was the only one available as far as I could get. What little story is offered, can be skipped with the press of a button. Such short game areas don’t need to be backed with short stories as well. They didn’t keep my interest anyway.
Fighting close area enemies is a struggle
There is not much for movement space unless you chance to fly around the baddies to the right side of the screen. Once a bad guy opts to lean in and take a stab at you, there is no escape it seems. Hack and slash in an attempt to prevent their attacks from hitting but it varies per enemy. While stuck in this quarrel you are almost always going to be shot at by other enemies. This close-quarters engagement is uncomfortable and frustrating, I don’t enjoy it. It doesn’t take long to progress to each level’s boss and those seem to be the meaty portions of Sol Divide. Swapping through your available magic attacks will prove useful if you can remember each boss’s weakness, let alone have the magic by then. Anyone else remember writing these useful things in a notebook as a kid?
Usually, I am saddened by leaderboards locked to local but this is not the case for me. Sol Divide is more of a one-person adventure game in the sense of, I don’t feel it has a competitive aspect at all. It would not motivate me to make another run in hopes of beating a friend’s score or progress further in the game. In choosing different characters I found each had their strength in one of the three attacks and Tyora is my favourite because her shot attack is best. Having a good shot makes it feel more shmup-like in gameplay and that appealed to me the most. I didn’t notice movement speed enough between the three to make a difference.
Graphically it has a dungeons and dragons theme
Enemies are knights, dragons, snakes, and others fitting the genre. Bosses are gigantic and take up half the screen at least. Smaller enemies are bats and assorted flying baddies including ants, skeletons, insects, and beholders. If a console were to be chosen for this game back in the day it would be Genesis. Definitely looks the part for that 16-bit device. Music is dark and eerie which does justice to the game. The music is a highlight and enhances gameplay because it fits so well.
Overall I did not enjoy Sol Divide, and had little fun with it. The game was challenging but not in a way that made me want to come back for more. I like the dungeons and dragons theme, and the music was nice but didn’t offer much in terms of fun. Shots were not satisfying and I did not want to figure out specific enemy weaknesses. I would not recommend Sol Divide unfortunately.
Review code provided
Release Date: 24/01/2020
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Shooter, Arcade
Developer: CITY CONNECTION
Publisher: NIS America
Download link: eShop