First of all, I must admit I am mainly a researcher on roleplaying games, gaming culture and surrounding topics. This is going to be helpful to explain my further decision of giving this programme the rating it deserves.
Roleplaying games as any fiction, fantasy and SF genres in particular, rely on diegesis - the creation of the universe the adventures take place in. Many RPGs use nearly the same "generic" sword and sorcery fantasy settings we all know and, after some time, grow bored of. It is mainly because of the popularity of fantasy genre in literature, film and computer games. It seems a lot of people think "If they were turned into bestsellers, I can do it too". Unfortunately, basing on the same archetypes turns them into stereotypes, thus killing the excitement of the session.
On another hand, creating a science-fiction world requires more creativity combined with knowledge of how our own world works. While most people will not mind a wizard who defies the laws of gravity, they will instantly notice something is wrong if the author makes a silly mistake when describing the ecosystem of a Sci-Fi planet. That is why I deem SF RPGs to be more demanding on the publisher's side. For me, Solar Echoes is a very good place to start one's journey to SF roleplaying.
First of all, the rules are relatively intuitive. The rule of five makes it easy to conduct calculations, which, if the rules are too complicated, can easily daunt beginner roleplayers. The basic rules of Solar Echoes are laid-out neatly and allow more flexibility than more popular systems I know. This is very positive for both the players and GMs, the latter ones being able to let their creative juices flow and reshape the game to their - and their players - liking. Sample sheets provided in the pack help imagine the playable character and fill in one's own - another good move from the publisher. There are few things more disheartening for a player than lots of rules that by no means fit into the sheet, leaving a blank page instead of a PC. Solar Echoes is not the case here, it maintains a balance between each element.
The world of Solar Echoes is well-rounded for me. It is neither overdeveloped, which lets the GMs add their own flair to sessions, nor too short. This is a pro for me, because I enjoy flexibility. Expanding the world is a great pleasure for both the GM and the players, who step by step, adventure by adventure, add their ideas to the original concept. Solar Echoes Orientation Guide finely expands the knowledge of the galaxy of Solar Echoes.
Certainly the major pro of Solar Echoes, which other competitive products lack in my humble opinion, is the focus on professions usually overlooked by GMs - thus people who, on a smaller scale than the armies, let's say, work in all kinds of third-level situations, for instance espionage and diplomacy. I prefer smaller parties with well-developed characters and their flaws. Typical archetypal warriors do not appeal to me, therefore as a rule of contradiction, Solar Echoes is a good choice when it comes to SF. I admit I have a soft spot for "protect the Balance" thing. It is really refreshing! The focus on this is shown perfectly by the rules for hacking, persuasion and diplomacy, which I value highly.
It is a well-rounded game in a highly SF setting. Definitely a good start for roleplaying for science-fiction lovers. The price is definitely attractive - too high a price can prevent the potential customer from trying the system. I admit I usually use fantasy settings, but Solar Echoes were a great choice to start doing something more SF. I am glad I took the plunge to try it. Lastly, Corefun Studios LLC offers free-to-try extensions such as Overnight Elite Pack, Solar Echoes Orientation Guide and Xenos NPC Pirate Pack, which allow the group to expand their possibilities and see if they enjoy the setting.