Solitude, the new point-and-click adventure/escape game from Japanese designer 58 Works, begins with a brief animation of a plane, one wing trailing smoke, plummeting from the sky into the ocean. A young man pulls himself out of the water and collapses onto a beach, exhausted by the ordeal—little does he know that his trials have barely begun. Playing as the sole survivor of the accident, can you solve puzzles, collect objects and unlock the secrets of this mysterious island? Most important of all, will you find a way to escape your paradisal prison?
Solitude is, at its core, a game of exploration. The game's puzzles are essentially pragmatic and realistic, mainly of the "collect item A to resolve obstacle B" variety (I simplify, but you understand what I mean). While the setting may be a bit fantastical, the ways in which you must use objects and manipulate the environment are completely reasonable, given the protagonist's situation. This means that Solitude is (hooray!) refreshingly logical. Every action makes sense, every solution is comprehensible. At the same time, those looking for raw intellectual challenge may not be entirely satisfied; while I would definitely not call the game easy, it isn't close to the most mentally taxing game you'll find in the genre.
Solitude's neat, colorful and professional-looking graphics create a very pleasant environment, one that is a pleasure to view and interact with. The interface is clean and user-friendly, and will be familiar to anyone accustomed to playing escape games. There's no pixel-hunting, per se (that is, no painstaking searches to find barely existent hotspots), but a number of important items are either hiding in plain sight or concealed in the environment, so make sure to run your cursor over everything in each scene. It's a little bit disappointing that Solitude does not contain a save feature; in my opinion, such an absence is inexcusable, particularly in a game created by such an excellent designer. Still, as Solitude is based more upon finding and then using items rather than solving complex puzzles, half-finishing and then restarting the game shouldn't cost you too much time.
All in all, Solitude is another superlative, highly entertaining effort from a consistently excellent designer. So, slip away from your busy week to bask for a little while in tropical isolation—while you may be trying to escape, you may be sorry to leave! Enjoy.