Solar Ash review

by on September 17, 2023
Release Date

December 8, 2021 (PS5, PS4, and PC)
September 14, 2023 (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch)


It’s been a long time coming, but Heart Machine’s Solar Ash has arrived on Xbox. It’s been one of those titles I always wanted to play, but for one reason or another, I missed the boat. Now, after immersing myself in its gorgeous dreamlike world and sublime controls, I can see why it has been so well-received. As good as it feels to play, the story at its heart, revealed through various diary entries, became its biggest surprise, pulling at the heartstrings and leaving you feel emotional as a result.

In Solar Ash you play as a Voidrunner called Rei, risking her life to save her home planet from the never-ending hunger of the Ultravoid. As serious as the situation is, the visuals are stunning. The different worlds are built meticulously. Pink, blue, and green colours intertwined with grace across all kinds of biomes, allowing Rei to glide through the clouds and experience the melancholic wonder of them all. It’s easy to appreciate what Heart Machine has done, as every facet of it works so well, be it the visuals or the mechanics.

Not only does it play so well, the story feels close to home, as you discover the stories of those affected by the Ultravoid, and how they were before chaos came knocking. There are also personal stories featuring Rei’s crew, hitting you hard and unexpectedly. This raw narrative is all around if you’re willing to search for it, and it’s something I encourage you to do. Whether you’re surging through a city filled with skyscrapers, skating through lush gardens, or through some of the dangers that await, the fluidity of movement is exceptional.

While not a rhythm game at all, there’s a sense of musicality into how you traverse through the worlds. You can use your skates to glide around environments, double jump across deep drops, climb up black goo, and grapple to new areas seamlessly and effortlessly. There’s a sense of freedom in Solar Ash that never goes away, and it’s a pleasure to explore and work out how to get where you need to go. There’s little help as to how everything works, but you never feel lost or unsure of what to do. Cyd, your AI buddy, will help you every now and again, but it’s more about finding things out for yourself.

There are minor enemies littered around, but they’re never tough to defeat, and they often factor into your movement. Glide, jump from one cliff to another, slash an enemy, then continue to glide across the ground. You don’t have many abilities, but each new world tests you to make use of them, whether finding a way to get across a green lake of acid, or grinding on mushrooms. There’s a ton of ways to make your way around Solar Ash, and I loved experimenting.

Each of the worlds in Solar Ash are lorded over by a Remnant; a huge beast that must be taken down in order to progress. In this sense, there are shades of Shadow of Colossus in the way you need to climb on them, destroy certain needles stuck in them with your staff, before landing a killer blow. If you don’t reach the next checkpoint on it in time, you’ll lose life and have to start again. Getting familiar with how they move and adapting your own movement and speed to reach these needle markers takes patience, but they’re all different and poses the biggest challenge in the game.

Solar Ash is a stunning game. Visually, it never fails to impress with each new world, featuring something new mechanically but also in its landscapes. Movement is a dream, acting as a way to explore entire worlds at your own pace, with various things to keep you busy before reaching the Remnant guarding the world. The story was deeper than I expected, both existential and reflective, and it was one of the best things about it, making me want to help Rei save her world from the Ultravoid.


Gorgeous world
Movement is exceptional
Powerful story
Exploration is satisfying


New abilities are lacking
Remnants are tricky

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Solar Ash offers sublime movement and an interesting story, with some fantastic mechanics that make you want to explore every facet of it.