Solace is a “bullet hell” style vertical shooter by One Man Down, a student team at the Digipen Institute of Technology. The game is based on the five stages of grief, as defined by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Each of the five game levels represents a stage on the Kübler-Ross scale, with appropriate color schemes, enemy design, music composition and even gameplay tweaks.
Anger is colored in burning reds and oranges, and firing your weapon creates harsh electric guitar riffs on the soundtrack. Depression, on the other hand, is bleak and grey, and your weapons don’t even work. You must instead dodge rather than attack. Acceptance actually turns the bullet hell tables, endowing you with massive screen-clearing firepower that represents the level’s flagship mental state.
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Picking up the souls of defeated enemies will upgrade your little soul fighter with larger and larger angelic wings, as well as a wider spread of fire. Getting hit will knock you down a form, but souls are plentiful enough to keep Solace from becoming too difficult. The idea behind it isn’t to frustrate the player, but to present an emotional journey in a very unusual format.
You can download and play Solace free of charge at their website. Grab some headphones for the optimal Solace experience.