Can you handle the heat of a sun in this puzzle game?
Physics-based puzzle games can either be a lot of fun or a broken mess. Solar Flux lands somewhere in the middle for me. The space-themed experience has definite high points, but also some decisions that hinder enjoyment, making for a flawed yet enjoyable time.
In Solar Flux, you are a small ship trying to collect solar energy and then launch it back into the depleted suns. When you return all suns to 100%, the level is over. Within these levels are two different types of challenges, namely being fuel consumption and shield levels. In fuel levels, you try to get the level done using as little fuel as possible, which is expended when you use thrust to control the direction of your ship. These levels task you with using the orbits of objects and the burst from the suns to move efficiently. Conversely, shield levels give you a set amount of shield that is lowered when you are close to a sun. These levels task you with moving quickly to collect and deposit the solar energy while taking breaks in the shadows to let your shield recover. The shield levels can be the most frustrating, because at times it feels like even at max speed you cannot collect the energy quick enough. A nice variation of these levels and what they do with them is really inventive and makes you think.
The controls vary depending on if you have it docked or in portable mode. When you have the Switch in portable mode, the game does not let you use your Joy-Con and you must control using the touch screen. The touch controls work well and feel nice to use. The developers managed to put a lot of functions in with simple controls. In docked mode you use the Joy-Con to control the game and it is not as good of a control system as the touch is. At times the movement of the left stick feels like it moves in big jumps and not the more fine-tuned controls you need. One big problem in the early levels is that the reticle showing where you are launching the energy is red. While this may not seem like a big deal, the suns from the first set of levels are all red and so you lose the reticle completely if you are near a sun. This led to me launching the energy in the wrong direction by mistake because I couldn’t see where I was aiming.
With fun levels, Solar Flux is definitely a good physics-based puzzle game if you are taking it on the go. With scoring based on how much fuel or shield you use, the game encourages you to play levels over to perfect your strategy. Unfortunately, the Joy-Con controls made things frustrating making me not want to play on the TV. Solar Flux does have some bright spots that certainly make it a game worth playing.