Stylish, addictive, perfect… and few people will play it. Solium Infernum review

Stylish, addictive, perfect... and few people will play it.  Solium Infernum review

Solium Infernum is an example of a title that, under slightly different circumstances, could have been a huge success. The problem is that it does not seem to be a game suitable for times of crop failure.

The beginning of 2024 is a great time for gamers. Practically every now and then we had a premiere that turned out to be a success. Palworld, Tekken 8, Ravendawn, Enshrouded, Helldivers II, Banishers: Ghost of New Eden, Skull and Bones, Last Epoch, Pacific Drive, Nightingale, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth – in previous years, such an abundance of titles would have lasted even half a year, and yet these are only selected items, without taking into account, for example, outstanding independent titles such as Ultros or Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor.

Solium Infernum. A strategy that should not be missed

Where does Solium Infernum fit in all this? The premiere of this gem went almost unnoticed, at least by players. After all, they are the ones who ultimately shape the market, not admiring reviewers. Of course, ambitious projects come along from time to time, but few people can boast of such a level of refinement, such attention to detail and the courage to propose interesting solutions. It's good when such ambition is sometimes rewarded in the form of a positive and, above all, massive response from players.

Solium Infernum is, of course, not such a completely original idea. It explores a certain niche, in which the most recognizable will be Armello (i.e. the previous game from the same studio) and For the King. The easiest comparison, however, will probably be the board game Game of Thrones. Similarly to the above-mentioned titles, we make moves on a small board and have to balance between combat and diplomacy. We have few moves per round, and war is not the only means to an end.

Solium Infernum is a bigger Game of Thrones, without its flaws

Anyone who has played Game of Thrones must be aware of its flaws. The rules are extensive and almost always need to be explained to someone tediously before the game starts. Alliances are meant to be broken, so someone will almost always get offended and sometimes even cry. The game lasts a long time, so someone almost always has to go home because it's five in the morning and the result of several hours of struggle remains unresolved.

There are no such problems in Solium Infernum. Here we connect via the network with similar “tryhards” and “sweaty people”. If someone has already devoted their time to playing such a title, they certainly know the rules and have completed an understandable tutorial. Nobody is sorry about the knife stabbed in their back – after all, it's a fight for the throne of the Lord of Hell, what did you expect? You can always employ artificial intelligence and show it your superiority. At the beginning it is an interesting enough challenge, while we are still discovering the secrets of the game.

Extensive turn-based strategy

Believe me, there is a lot to discover. For a strategy of this type, we get something exceptionally complex. Importantly, it is not difficult to start the game – all additional options only serve to enrich it. However, once we get into it, we have a lot of opportunities to expand our range of conspiracies and villainy. Often, most of our time is spent considering the available options, and implementing them takes seconds.

Every round we are faced with many choices: is it better to create new armies or improve existing ones? Buy artifacts or cast curses? Fight with entire units or challenge the enemy commander to a duel? Hoard resources or steal them from rivals? We can also take the path of diplomacy and act even more insidiously. The goal here is to accumulate the most prestige points for a specific round (players decide). However, the time limit is a bit… fluid and we learn the definition of hell when, after the designated round, another round appears, our panic increases, and the cry “let's keep this advantage!” echoes in our heads.

In Solium Infernum, it's best to play with friends

Solium Infernum is a game that resembles the iconic Heroes of Might and Magic, is associated with the Civilization series, and may bring back the memory of Disciples. Ultimately, however, it is closest to the Game of Thrones mentioned here, so it also works best with the participation of live players. If you have friends you can convince to play, you will be in seventh heaven. However, if you are forced to look for friends on the Internet, you may have to wait a while to play the game. Unfortunately, this is not Fortnite or League of Legends – the player base is not yet as impressive as one could wish.

This one aspect means that although I am personally delighted with Solium Infernum, I am not writing to all my colleagues, strongly urging them to buy it. I can understand that not everyone will spend PLN 185 on a strategy game that will require additional people to achieve its full potential. I don't plan to play it regularly, because I have so many other things to play. In an ideal world, however, I would have a group of enthusiasts with whom I meet every sixth Saturday for a game of Solium Infernum. In an ideal world, I would recommend this game blindly, because I haven't played a strategy game this enjoyable and polished in years.

Hell of a style. It's memorable

While Armello was Disney-like and fairy-tale-like, and For the King was simply ugly, Solium Infernum is – as its name suggests – incredibly stylish. Every now and then we can admire paintings depicting apocalyptic visions, terrifying armies and demonic creatures. The lords of hell have also been animated in such a way that no one will confuse Belial with Mammon or Lilith with Erzsebet. Finally, there is a clear strategic map, marked with devilish strongholds and haunted by deadly beasts. The infernal music is also appropriately composed, and the screams of tortured souls can sometimes shake our peace.

I want to believe that such a successful game will be able to defend itself. Sooner or later it will find its audience when they get tired of catching Pokemon in Palworld and comparing Last Epoch to the Diablo and POE duo. The creators are constantly working on the intelligence of computer opponents, so perhaps in a short time the single player option will also become tempting, and not just decent. Maybe the price won't be so daunting after all – after all, someone also had to pay those two hundred zlotys for the Game of Thrones board game. There are also promotions, sales, pages with keys… Maybe my pessimism will turn out to be exaggerated and at the end of the year, when Solium Infernum will receive awards for the best strategy, no one will ask what kind of game it is.

Rating: 9.5/10

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