SOL: Exodus may herald the return of the space combat simulator genre.
One of my favorite moments from PAX Prime this past year was trudging up the stairs to the independent section and sitting down with Chris Stockman from Seamless Entertainment. In him, I found a kindred spirit whose love of playing games in which you pilot a small fighter and engage in dogfights in space dwarfed my own. Stockman loved games like X-Wing, Descent: FreeSpace, and Wing Commander and lamented that the genre fell out of style with game publishers due to the failures of Wing Commander: Prophecy and FreeSpace 2. (If those titles are like Cylon gibberish to you, here's a handy timeline of the space combat sim to keep you clear.) After quitting a high-level gig at Volition where he was design director of the first Saints Row, Stockman signed on with Seamless to make SOL: Exodus. The fruits of his labor will be released to the wilds of Steam on January 25th for a bargain price of $9.99.
The game features 8 missions of open-ended combat in three dimensions. This is no StarFox on-rails crap, you can pilot your ship anywhere and attack any target you want in in SOL: Exodus. Targets include capital ships with weak points apparent with a scan of their hull and static defense you can hack into via your onboard computer. The weaponry leans towards visceral with machine guns and homing missiles instead of lasers, but Stockman's goal was to evoke the new Battlestar Glactica, not Star Wars.
The story drives that comparative military realism home. The Earth's sun is dying, and humanity is forced to quickly expand to other planets in the solar system. A fanatical religious organization known as the Children of the Dawn have other plans, however, and want to make sure the sun goes supernova and brings rapture to all human beings, regardless of whether they want to be burnt to a solar crisp or not.
I'm looking forward to launching my campaign as an ace pilot in SOL: Exodus this week, but, for now, feel free to enjoy the launch trailer above and these tasty screenshots. If you're interested in learning more about the genesis of SOL: Exodus, check out my feature on the space combat sim and Stockman's plans for reviving the genre here.