Close to the Sun First Impressions Preview – Xbox One

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When you first load up Close to the Sun, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is a Bioshock clone. It’s not just the nautical setting that causes these comparisons, but even the art style and character models resemble the 2007 classic. There’s more than that here though, with inspiration also coming from games such as Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and even Alien: Isolation. At its heart, Close to the Sun is an atmospheric walking simulator with brief bursts of high intensity action, but it’s also a grab-bag of mechanics and visual design from a variety of well-regarded games released over the past fifteen years or so.

In Close to the Sun you play as the journalist Rose who, upon receiving a letter from her sister Ana, decides to take a trip to the mysterious Helios, a giant seafaring vessel run by Nikola Tesla, who offers a haven for the best scientists and thinkers of the age. As soon as you step on board the Helios, however, you realize that things aren’t exactly going to plan. There’s no-one in sight to greet you, for a start, and the documents that you’ll find early on are rife with paranoia, fearing the intrusion of spies and government interference aboard Tesla’s floating metropolis. There’s also a definite sense of foreboding, added to by the heavy clanking and whirring of Tesla’s machines, which give the Helios a definite steampunk aesthetic.

Close to the Sun is broken into chapters, with each taking place in a particular part of the Helios. The first few chapters, or at least those that I have so far experienced, aren’t especially long in terms of direct narrative, but there is a lot of exploration to do, and plenty of collectibles to pickup, some of which give further context to the main story, and some of which fill in blanks about the larger world of the game. So far, the story is intriguing, and unsurprisingly it feels as if there is plenty of mystery laying just below the surface of the main narrative, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the initial thrust of the story is soon moved aside for something far larger and far more dangerous than what I’m currently experiencing.

Close to the Sun has been available on PC since earlier in the year, but will be releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch on October 29th. From what I’ve played so far, I’m eager to dive back into the game, and I’m fascinated to see what Nikola Tesla and the Helios have waiting for me. So far I’ve had just enough of a vibe that all is not what it seems to get my brain ticking, and I’m excited to see what comes next.