Catacombs Of Solaris’ horrific/amazing eyeball trickery

Catcombs of Solaris

Ian MacLarty’s Catacombs of Solaris [ page] isn’t really a game so much as it is an endurance challenge which has mated with a Magic Eye picture or something. It made my eyes feel like they wanted to crawl out of my face and die as well as being really interesting from an optical illusion standpoint.

Catacombs of Solaris is fascinating in that it creates the illusion that a path will take you one way because of how the panels which line the walls use linear convergence. It makes the space look like there are tunnels carrying on into the distance because there seem to be these vanishing points which normally denote a path you can follow towards said point. But it’s only by moving around the space that you can discern where the real path is – it’s the motion which reveals what is a flat perspective illusion and where the real tunnels are.

There are no objectives other than MacLarty inviting you to find the room you like best, so you’re not questing after a particular objective, just seeing what you get out of the experience.

For me it’s a curious, really well-executed riff on perspective and exploration to create these horrifically confusing catacombs. It’s also the sickest I’ve ever felt in a game outside VR – the colours and the disorientation and the way you have to look in order to work out the space… Whole worlds of NOPE. I haven’t stopped wanting to scoop my eyeballs out of my head since playing it just so I can get rid of the feeling that they are having some sort of freakout inside my face. It’s like having a hangover without so much as a snifter passing your lips.

I don’t think I’ve made this sound fun at all. But it is interesting and pay what you want on


  1. GameCat says:

    That’s your brain on praising the sun.

  2. muki0 says:

    You know those weird spots and sparkles and colors when you rub your closed eyeballs for a while? that’s what this game is.

  3. sillythings says:

    Reminds me of an early section in Multilytheus.

  4. anaemic says:

    This was an impressive effect, until I realised that the game was changing the geometry of the map thats not in your field of view.

    Walk up to a t-junction, turn around and whats behind you isnt where you came from, turn around again and the wall you were just facing has often changed into a new pathway to follow.

    • Halk says:

      Exactly, it’s cheating.

      There’s an even easier way to see it: Walk straight against a wall, then walk straight back. Everything has changed.

      • lyje says:

        Not sure why that’s cheating, or any less impressive.

        • MrUnimport says:

          Cheating in the sense that it’s not visual disorientation that’s getting the player lost, it’s the actual terrain around them changing unknowably.

    • Sic says:

      Can you hit walls?

      Is there any way to “escape” the geometry entirely, or does it just generate more?

  5. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Catacombs Of Solaris?
    Catacombs of bloody migraine more like.

  6. AskForBarry says:

    This is what puking feels like.

  7. jj2112 says:

    And I thought Caverns of Khafka was weird back in the day…

  8. brucethemoose says:

    Add VR support, add a bit of artificial latency, and you have an instant VR barf challenge!

  9. Darth Gangrel says:

    Pip’s mental breakdown in that video is such sweet music to my ears (evil laughter), which I know sounds terrible, but surely not as terrible as having to navigate that colourful world.

  10. Daoler says:

    1. Don’t stop.
    2. Don’t turn around.
    3. Absolutely don’t stop when a single color is filling your screen.

  11. sapien82 says:

    I really need to learn how to program , id love to make a DMT flash or LSD trip in VR