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Children of the Sun Review

Children of the Sun Motel Against a Pink Sky

Children of the Sun wastes no time revealing the unsettling atmosphere that developer René Rother crafted. You can feel it in the grungy art style, aggressive music, and abnormally creepy cutscenes. This puzzle shooter makes sure you feel uneasy when it wants you to. While simultaneously creating calm moments in between the noise.

This makes up the majority of Children of the Sun where the loud intensity blends alongside quiet planning. Without having much to go on, you strike out on a journey of revenge, sniping cultists from afar. Which would make for a simple game if not for the supernatural aspect. The protagonist referred to only as The Girl in marketing has one bullet to take out many targets. Fortunately, she can manipulate that bullet in real-time.

This is how Children of the Sun stands out as far more than just a basic sniping game. Every level starts with circling a group of cultists like a wolf preparing to pounce. You’ll need to learn the environment, where each target is, where vehicles are, and in the process, plan a route for your bullet. Once you hit your first target, you can then reroute the bullet in any direction to hit another enemy.

Children of the Sun - Scouting For Cultists

Which would be easy if you didn’t have to maneuver around the many obstacles obstructing your vision. This is how each level quickly becomes a satisfying puzzle to unravel and solve. Especially as you unlock new abilities that increase your bullet control. Such as manipulating a bullet’s trajectory mid-flight. Abilities like these provide an opportunity for challenging levels that force you to think creatively.

Instead of shooting directly at a cultist and bouncing between them, you’ll need to play it like a maze. Squeezing through windows as you weave in between doorways to find your prey. Fortunately, you can also target a car’s fuel tank or a high-flying bird. Similar to the many cultists, you can reroute when hitting them as well.

As you work through each level, the music and sound design adapt to your actions. It’s calm when you’re scouting for enemies or aiming a bullet. Then it flips the second you fire off a shot switching to intense and frantically loud. With a clean cymbal crash each time you hit a cultist. This reminds me of another Devolver Digital published game with phenomenal sound design, Ape Out.

Children of the Sun - Controlling a Bullet Mid-Flight

Children of the Sun excels as it evokes an exceptional balance between peace and chaos. In doing so, it enhances the already satisfying gameplay. Despite being a short game taking me only two and a half hours to beat, there’s replay value in chasing leaderboard scores. Which makes for a captivating time as you strive to shave seconds off your time while completing unique challenges too.

One thing about repeating levels that I love is realizing the many different ways you can tackle them. There isn’t one set solution to solving each puzzle. Which is bound to make for impressive videos as people pull off crazy schemes.

As much of a fan of the gameplay as I am, the story had me questioning how deep or perhaps shallow it was. Which can be disappointing when the cutscenes are so full of energy. After my first playthrough, I revisited many levels and cutscenes searching for missed details. But I couldn’t decide if the cutscenes were unclear or just lacking. I tried to connect little details in certain areas to level titles to tie it all together. But it still felt limited.

Children of the Sun - Cutscene Cult Brochure

The one bit that stood out to me was an isolated message that felt out of place. It came across as an attempt to develop a deeper story or an opportunity for interesting symbolism. But instead, it doesn’t feel built upon or supported. It felt thrown in on its own making it more bizarre than anything. I read a pre-launch interview with the developer where he addressed it briefly; mentioning an anti-gun stance.

Whereas a separate pre-launch interview explains how players can interpret the story in many ways. Which was a deliberate decision to keep things vague so it falls on the player to understand. The interesting part is this out of place message could be silly to some or a comment on police reform for others. And that’s just crazy to me when thinking about this quick revenge story about some cultists and a girl with telekinesis.

I don’t need the plot to hit me bluntly in the face, but it feels at odds with itself. You have a loose story told through obscure cutscenes and minor world-building alongside one sentence that attempts to add depth. Part of me wishes the developer expanded on this or created a clear theme revolving around it. This is where the decision to keep it vague and leave it up to the player holds it back. It made me want to dig for a deeper narrative but in doing so, I just ended up with more unanswered questions.

Children of the Sun Review | Closing Thoughts

Children of the Sun Bathroom Cleaning Rifle

Children of the Sun is a beautiful acid trip with a brilliant mechanic. The level design highlights how well that mechanic works as you explore each environment. Similar to a tough puzzle or point-and-click game, I feel accomplished every time I succeed. Between clever level design and a variety of enemy types, you’re kept on your toes. I just find myself perplexed as I chase a complex story that wants to exist but doesn’t.

Review Score: 8/10 (Great)

Children of the Sun was provided by a PR agency via a Steam code.