CHILDREN OF THE SUN is a great if short concept that leaves you uneasy but I think that's the point

Will you return time and time again to take your revenge?

April 10, 2024 1:00 AM

CHILDREN OF THE SUN is a brutal revenge story wrapped in a neon-hued package of chaos and self-imposed challenge, curving bullets through the air to take out enemy after enemy in one deadly arc.

This indie first-person puzzle-shooter by developer René Rother and Devolver Digital, left me conflicted, I both wanted more whilst also being pretty happy that it was over.

Whether or not the broad strokes of vibrant violence and a jarring chaotic soundtrack is for you, well I'll let you decide, but I can guarantee there are some players out there who will return time and time again to take their revenge.

Sickly colours and lit up foes CHILDREN OF THE SUN is as neon-soaked as it gets

You killed my father, prepare to die

You play as the young daughter of a man driven to suicide by the manipulations of a cult. Armed with his rifle, you embark on a bloody quest for vengeance, navigating small self-contained levels.

Gameplay revolves around a simple mechanic: one bullet, multiple targets. You guide the bullet post-impact, chaining kills in a ballet of destruction.

This core puzzle element, combined with environmental hazards and the thrill of finding the perfect vantage point, creates a compelling loop of planning, executing, and refining and for those who revel in shaving seconds off their run times, this game is a gem.

It encourages the obsessive refinement of tactics, much like games such as SUPERHOT and NEON WHITE.

However, if leaderboard climbing and score maximization don't captivate you, the experience will be a brief one because this game is short. Really short.

It offers a surprising lack of replayability, even for perfectionist gamers.

I got through the campaign in just a few hours, with a significant amount of time spent replaying levels to better my score, as well as an accidental restart after completing six levels due to the game only allowing a single save slot.

While it does introduce new abilities and enemy types as you progress, it rarely challenges the player beyond self-imposed difficulties.

When I eventually felt that I was drawn into the loop, had figured out all the quirks, and felt myself entering that sweet spot of understanding a game where the power fantasy really kicks in...

It ended.

I have to admit it was a mix of both disappointment and relief though because this games visual style is a lot.

Crystalised angst

From the get-go, I was impressed by how the game builds intrigue with its haunting sound design and simple, dark art style. The eerie, droning atmosphere of the menu screen, punctuated by off-beat cymbals, sets the stage for a dark and contemplative journey ahead.

Sadly, that is not what was on the path before me.

The slower parts of the game, like navigating the menus and the planning stage at the beginning of a level, were moody and quiet and made you feel like a lone predator stalking your unsuspecting prey.

The stylistic choices in these moments worked exceptionally well but as soon as the action begins, you are overwhelmed by a symphony of abrasive noise and gritty, unnerving, clashing sounds.

While this was Initially interesting, the appeal of relentless auditory assault quickly wore off, especially the jarring distorted guitar that celebrates your victory at each level's conclusion.

The visuals follow the audio tone on that journey.

What begins as a striking, colourful representation of the protagonist's shattered psyche and new-found brutality quickly becomes grating and tiresome.

These choices, combined with some bizarre and disjointed story beats (trust me, you'll know it when you see it), make for an overall presentation that comes across as hollow teenage edgelordery.

It's a lot.

Here for a good time not a long time

With that said, the game's presentation in this genre is significantly less important to me than the mechanics and gameplay loop and where it matters, CHILDREN OF THE SUN delivers.

After all, I hold NEON WHITE up as one of the most significant examples of this genre done well, and I had to skip every single line of dialogue in that game just to get through it.

It shines in its ability to blend tactical thinking with quick reflexes, offering a relatively fresh twist on the puzzle-shooter.

Maybe it's better to be left wanting rather than out stay your welcome?

Gotta a few hours to kill on a weekend? Why not turn that into a few cultists to kill.

CHILDREN OF THE SUN is a good choice for anyone looking for a few hours of intense, puzzle-driven gameplay however, for those less enchanted by its stylistic choices, it might be a journey better skipped.

A copy of CHILDREN OF THE SUN  on PC was provided to SIFTER for the purposes of this review.

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first person shooter

Children of the Sun

René Rother
Devolver Digital
Release Date:
April 9, 2024

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