Children of the Sun wallpaper
April 22, 2024

With only one bullet available that moves after every kill, can Children of the Sun be 2024’s hidden gem? Find out in our Children of the Sun review!

I’m a simple man – if Devolver Digital is publishing a video game, I’m going to give it a good look. Whether it’s Cult of the Lamb, Loop Hero, or Shadow Warrior 3, we’ve had our fill of entertaining, brilliant new titles from indie devs thanks to this publisher. Devolver is the epitome of keeping a keen eye on wholly-new ideas from small developers and putting them in the hands of a larger audience – with just about every game being a smash hit.

Children of the Sun review gameplay

In Children of the Sun, you’ll have to take out every enemy in one fell swoop or you’ll have to try again.

Devolver’s established success made me question why not a lot of people were taking notice of Children of the Sun, a puzzle shooter from a solo dev in Rene Rother. With a gritty presentation, novel concept, and big hook, seeing it underperform in comparison to other Devolver titles was a shock. Now that I’ve gotten my way through the game, I can hazard a guess as to why the large player base isn’t established just yet.

Children of the Sun Review – Gameplay

The base gameplay within Children of the Sun is easy – you survey the enemies from afar, line up your shot, fire, and then make that bullet count as you can aim again after every kill. In practice, it’s the definition of “easy to learn, hard to master” in the sense that you could play through the entirety of the game with just the mouse, never touching the keyboard.

Children of the Sun review removing evidence

Every level starts off with the camera revealing every enemy’s location – but it’s up to you to connect them all with a bullet.

The tall task of linking all of your enemies in bullet time with one try is easier said than done. You’ll be going in and out of buildings, through small crevices, and even between a moving train to take out everyone. One miss or touch of any terrain, and you’ll have to start over again. Thankfully, you are able to hit gas tanks and survey birds from above to keep the combo going.

Children of the Sun review birds eye view

Once a level’s completed, you can survey your strategy in a succinct line of where your bullet went.

I found Children of the Sun’s concept to get a lot of mileage throughout my playthrough. The game always managed to introduce some new gameplay element to keep the premise fun in its short runtime. While some puzzles were wicked-tough to figure out, the open-ended approach to them resulting in multiple solutions was more rewarding than just looking up the answer when I got stuck. Restarting a level takes mere seconds, so failure didn’t sting too badly.

Children of the Sun review challenge complete

Tack on some challenges to boost your score on the leaderboard, and Children of the Sun makes itself replayable as can be.

The trial-and-error element to solving the “bullet shooter” puzzles can be quite frustrating, as some levels had me trying every path I could think up to no avail. It didn’t end up being a deal-breaker, as any puzzle game worth its weight needs to challenge the player’s perception – and Children of the Sun has enough going on in its setting and story to warrant pushing forward.

Children of the Sun Review – Story

The graphic comic delivery within Children of the Sun’s cutscenes immediately evoked a feeling of the avant-garde presentation within Grasshopper Manufacture titles such as Killer7 or No More Heroes. Vibrant colors and bleak tone aside, it’s engrossing when a game only feeds you bits and pieces and lets the gameplay speak for itself. The short cutscenes, devoid of dialogue, still successfully show what’s going on and why the cultist vengeance of the protagonist is warranted.

Children of the Sun review cutscene

Children of the Sun’s fleeting, eye-popping cutscenes serve as a nice break from the nonstop action.

Children of the Sun Review – Sound

It was a bit disappointing to see Children of the Sun skimp on delivering a high-quality soundtrack, but such is the folly of the solo dev experience. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to score a game where the emphasis on focusing in bullet time works out, and the sound effects there work wonders for concentration – I just wish some music could amplify the intensity of this violent escapade.

Children of the Sun review visuals

The uncanny valley is synonymous with Children of the Sun playthroughs.

Children of the Sun Review – Performance

Children of the Sun thrives on its lo-fi, retro-esque textures in its presentation. As such, it’s mega-optimized for modern machines and only needs modest hardware to be enjoyed on a wide variety of configurations. I enjoyed triple-digit frames-per-second across a super-ultrawide screen and no frame drops to speak of. This makes the varying scenery between levels pop out and creates a fantastic visual experience.

Children of the Sun review sniper rifle aiming

No two levels feel the same throughout Children of the Sun’s 3-4 hour runtime.

Children of the Sun Review – Conclusion

As with most Devolver Digital titles, gameplay is the name of the game, and Children of the Sun is at its best when you’ve just figured out how to whittle away a staggering amount of enemies with what looks like relative ease. The process of getting there can be frustrating when you’ve brainstormed and tinkered around tons of strategies, but the end result of puzzle success generates dopamine like no other game can.

Children of the Sun review gameplay gif

I’ll never fault a solo developer for nitpicks I might have, since as a whole, Children of the Sun is a great visceral experience that will appeal to its niche. For me, combining the meticulous perfectionism of Sniper Elite and SUPERHOT with the storytelling chops of a supernatural Suda51 joint results in a winning formula. It won’t be as such for the ordinary gamer, but just how many ordinary gamers are there out there?

So, why should you play Children of the Sun?

  • Wholly-unique gameplay loop that doesn’t get old.
  • Rewarding satisfaction after clearing a particularly brain-teasing level.
  • Gripping cutscenes and new gameplay bits keep you hooked from start to finish.

But why shouldn’t you play Children of the Sun?

  • Some puzzles exhaust all reason and necessitate trial and error.
  • All too short of a game, despite its low price point.
  • A few hitboxes need fine-tuning.

A review code on PC was kindly provided for the purpose of our Children of the Sun review. Looking for more Devolver goodness? Check out our reviews from the publisher and join us over on the Qualbert Discord to chat all things indie.

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