We’ll get the most out of Red Solstice 2: Survivors by pursuing the game’s two main storylines. Each of the game’s two chapter-based campaigns is fairly short, so there’s no need to worry about losing interest over the course of a few hours. But it’s also just as easy to neglect the game’s shorter campaign and focus on its longer, more challenging version.

First of all, Red Solstice 2: Survivors is a mere $10 on Steam. That is amazing. The premise of the game is to survive in a post-apocalyptic world while fending off hordes of zombies and bandits. Players can craft weapons, manage their inventory, and use traps to defend their base from the zombies and bandits.

Red Solstice 2: Survivors is a surprisingly good game, with a decent storyline, great visuals and a great audio score. And yet, it’s incredibly frustrating, and it’s hard to see how it can be any good at all.

In Red Solstice 2: Survivors, Mars has become a living hell. Strange alien zombies lurk on the surface, desperate to strip you of your sturdy armor. The game follows a similar pattern to 2015’s The Red Solstice, which also required stopping large hordes of zombie aliens.

What is the red solstice? 2 : Survivors is different because it borrows elements from XCOM to add depth and importance to the campaign. Players take on the role of the Enforcer, an armored warrior trying to wrest control of Mars from a horde of aliens. You decide where and when to attack, what weapons to use, and who will risk their lives against the tentacles and claws of the xenos.

They will build bases, recruit new fighters, and generally be big and dominant on the battlefield, but unfortunately that’s where things start to fall apart.

Strife on Mars

Image via Ironward

Red Solstice 2: Survivors is full of confusing decisions that don’t make much sense. This includes, first and foremost, the way campaign fights are conducted. You control the Executor and can use the weapons, skills and items you pick up during missions, but you can’t control the other team members. You can carry up to three AI characters with you, but they just follow you around, automatically targeting enemies and using their skills when they see fit.

It’s annoying when 75% of the devices on your screen don’t need your intervention to do their job. It’s also unfortunate that they are not given direct commands and often ignore their movements in favor of whatever the AI decides to do.

Unfortunately, the combat in RS2:S has the ghost of a much more interesting system where you can switch between characters with full access to their inventory and skills. That would be great, a real strategic challenge and a test of a player’s actions in a minute that is really worth diving into. Unfortunately, the fights become rather monotonous after a while, with no real surprise and little nuance. You control your enemies and let the AI destroy them.

Another area where the game tends to fail is in the simple explanations of what to do and when to do it. As mentioned earlier, the game uses a world map very similar to that of XCOM. The problem is that the developers seem to have decided that you’ve played enough XCOM to know how everything works and what to do. The game will tell you that a certain type of investigation is available, but will not give you any clue on how to complete it. It never explains what the scanner does and why you should care, and other important systems remain a mystery.

Multiplayer madness

Image via Ironward

Red Solstice 2 is really all about the multiplayer. Up to eight players can take part in the game, each commanding their own soldiers and contributing to the battle between humanity’s forces and the alien minions from Mars. As in the original game, the multiplayer is where the real fun is, and the game is well aware of this, as it includes Discord links so you can easily connect with other groups of players.

One of the features of the game is the wide variety of enemies that you will have to fight throughout the game. When it comes to mutants, it’s always disappointing that the game doesn’t live up to the general idea of mutation. Happy Red Solstice 2: Survivors features a variety of twisted, wobbly, multi-legged monsters for you to fight.

Unfortunately, the programming is a bit problematic. It’s designed more to keep groups of friends sharp in multiplayer mode than to provide a smooth single player experience. You can run around the map a lot and hunt for exclamation points to complete missions. The game also struggles to convey the urgency of a particular mission, side mission or variation on the world map, and this is perhaps its biggest weakness. Without that sense of urgency, there’s no reason to believe in the idea of a threat, which is compounded by the game’s approach of just letting them die.

As long as your boss is alive, everything is fine, and your fellow players are treated as totally expendable characters. It robs the story and campaign of any seriousness, and the idea of trying to save Mars for anyone but yourself never occurs to you.

The verdict

As a fan of the first game, I can’t lie, the performance of Red Solstice 2: Survivor is disappointing. The game looks and runs well, much better than the original, but it just lacks the areas I really wanted it to excel in. To be fair, there’s a lot here for fans of the original game, but there’s also something that might disappoint you if you don’t have enough friends who care about the game to set up a multiplayer lobby together.

A big part of me is really hoping this will be another Brigador, a game that had all the pieces when it came out, but just needed some polishing and rearranging to make it shine.

I think we should talk about Red Solstice 2: Survivors as two different games – a flawed single-player product and a superior multiplayer product – and then let potential buyers base their choice on who they will play with.

Being more of a single player fan, I really hope Red Solstice 2: Survivors can get the polish it needs to become the kind of game Ironward is clearly capable of.

Final score:

6 / 10

+ The game is beautiful and offers an elegant, if dark, world to explore.
+ The battles are generally interesting, though they are ruined a bit by the lack of full and deep control over the units.
+ Since the game’s setup is clearly based on multiplayer, this is the best way to play.
Unfortunately, the single player mode suffers from this trick.
The game lacks explanations and hints for many of the systems in the campaign.

Disclosure: This review was written using the game code provided by the publisher.Red Solstice 2: Survivors is a game that’s difficult to summarize. It wasn’t what I expected. It was a pleasant surprise. It is also a game that is difficult to get into.. Read more about red solstice 2 survivors gameplay and let us know what you think.

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