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Set sail on a wonderful journey to solve The Helios mystery.

Byline: GAME ON With Cheryl Mullin

CLOSE TO THE SUN XBOX One, PS4 AT the close of the 19th century, Nikola Tesla, tired of the backwards thinking of governments, built a science vessel, The Helios. He staffed it with some of the world's greatest scientific minds, and set off for international waters where his new community could work uninterrupted by the outside world.

It's the perfect scenario for things to go horrible wrong - and oh boy, are they about to go wrong.

It's difficult not to draw parallels with Bioshock: the watery setting, the art deco environment, the mad visionary piping threats through the tannoy system, time slips - even the fonts are the same. But the big difference is that our hero Rose has no weapons, she relies on her wits, her courage, and her speed to get out of a bad situation - and on the Helios you'll encounter many.

Add to that some deliciously great little plot twists, and sinister encounters, and developer Storm In a Teacup manages to put just enough distance between Close to The Sun and Bioshock to prevent it being a template copy.

Summoned to The Helios by her sister Ada, journalist Rose finds herself aboard a near empty ship, its automated systems allowing it to tick along nicely.

The empty corridors echo with your footsteps as you make your way through the bowels of the ship and start to unravel the mystery of what's happened to the crew.

Visually, Close to The Sun is a thing of beauty. Rich, detailed environments ooze atmosphere and glamour, flickering lights and shadowy corners add tension and menace. There is a real air of malice, too. The opulent surroundings are strewn with overturned furniture and discarded belongings, with the occasional splatter of viscera on the walls or floor.

Each new chapter contains different collectables and clues which flesh out the story and help Rose start to piece together what happened on the ship.

The excellent soundtrack adds to the proceedings, making you second guess turning that corner or opening that door too quickly for fear of what lies on the other side.

Gameplay is easy enough, with Rose having to solve several puzzles on her journey. Sadly those puzzles often only involve finding a notebook, or sheet of paper in order to get the code written on it to unlock something.

The fact that Rose's only form of defence is to run also wore a little thin towards the end, the chase sequences feeling more like the character breaking into a light jog than running for her life.

While the environments are gorgeous, some of the characters are a little sticky, the animation not quite as smooth as it could be.

The ending came quite abruptly, just under six hours into the game. A short but very sweet adventure.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Close to the Sun. For an indie game, it's an impressive achievement, and I really hope the developers decide to add some DLC because I'd love to go back to The Helios.

... .| Buy it: PS24.99 from epicgames.com

CAPTION(S):

Close to the Sun is visually beautiful

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Loughborough Echo (Loughborough, England)
Date:May 15, 2019
Words:525
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