Children of the Sun Review

Children of the Sun bills itself as a tactical third-person puzzle-shooter, but not all of those descriptions are equally relevant. Discard any attachment you might have to the idea of ​​a tactical third-person shooter in any traditional or meaningful way and focus entirely on the puzzle part. Children of the Sun, by contrast, is a supernatural shooter where you control the trajectory and speed of a bullet per level – part Hitman: Sniper Assassin, Part Seinfeld Magic Lukey. Essentially, you have to pause, pivot and plan your single shot to kill every enemy in every level without losing said bullet beyond the bounds of the map or hitting a part of the environment. It's clever and compelling, and I find stitching together successful runs very satisfying. However, it certainly doesn't evoke much sympathy for its masked main character, and I'm not sure it's as replayable as it thinks it is.

The premise of Children of the Sun is simple, and without any sort of voiceover – just quick scenes of sharp, hand-drawn artwork. That delivery is impressively effective. No matter what language you speak, I hope you will find the story easy to follow.

There are occasional subtitles, but they don't seem to contribute anything particularly important. Our unnamed character – The Girl – is bent on killing her way through The Cult to take out its brutal leader, The Leader, who killed her parents. And… she has psychic powers that allow her to move things with her mind. That's all you need to know, and that's all you know. She's upset, but her telekinetic killing field eases her pain. Or cuckolding her. I think it's one or the other.

Her telekinetic killing spree eases her pain. Or cuckolding her. I think it's one or the other.

It's not that deep, but it doesn't have to be. It's a revenge story, and I love revenge stories. For example, you don't need a diving bell to get to the bottom of the Death Wish. It would have been nice if Children of the Sun had created a little more empathy for the girl. She has no personality to speak of; She's a disgruntled bundle of adolescent angst in a different guise. Arguably, the solution here is to fill in the blanks yourself, but when I do that, all I get is being picked last for a team game and asking for thirty seconds to Mars. I'm over the obvious edginess of Children of the Sons.

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A bullet with butterfly wings

Outside of the main character's teenage Tumblr tone, Children of the Sun deliberately goes for a grainy and stylized PS2-era aesthetic. It does the job well, but sometimes it's a bit too dark for its own good. For example, I'm forced to restart levels after hitting objects that I can't actually see until I hit them. Enemies glow though. This is smart because it reduces the children of the sun looking for your prey in the first place. This is the fun part. I expect Children of the Sun to easily destroy what it does right, while unfairly seeking out hidden cultists.

It's certainly not overrun with controls or buttons; In fact, everything is done with the left and right mouse buttons and the scroll wheel. Very easy to pick up. The crunchy, harsh tone may not be to everyone's taste, but it's very straightforward and otherwise accessible to play.

The girl can move left or right at the start of each level – sometimes in a small space, sometimes around the entire perimeter – but that's the only navigation. 99% of Children of the Sun is spent controlling Bullet, not The Girl. I'll admit that her very limited movement feels pointless at first, but later on in the roughly five-hour run time maneuvering the right firing angle becomes crucial to being able to take everyone down before you run out. Bullet tricks.

Those tactics are thoughtfully evaluated as levels progress, and include the ability to kill nearby enemies using cars' fuel caps to cause explosions, giving you a bonus chance to deflect your bullet or deflect it several degrees slower. Hit moving targets. Later, you'll learn the ability to quickly accelerate bullets to destroy armor, and to take advantage of successful hits on enemy weak spots to change trajectory as needed in any direction. Adding these new techniques to the overall system keeps things from getting stagnant, and the way Children of the Sun encourages us to experiment and integrate these tricks is really great. Need some height? Shoot a bird to get a better view of the level and bonus route change while you're at it. Too close to armed thugs? Hit a few weak spots on some stationary Cultists, send your shot into the distance, then fire it back from a distance with a little extra sass.

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Master of a Speeding Bullet

Children of the Sun has a scoring system and leaderboards attached to each level to compare your best efforts with your friends and the rest of the world. I expect it's fine if you're the ruthlessly competitive type, but killing everyone in a slightly different order (to see if there's a somewhat faster way to do it) isn't really enough to make me jump back. Play all levels again. The layouts of some of the later maps were complicated enough to make me want to try a few more times, but since the enemies are always more or less in the same place, it's like solving the same crossword puzzle over and over again. It was remarkably unsatisfying after the first visit.

Children of the Sun, the cardinal slow motion sin, shows a bullet in flight as a full cartridge.

For clarity, the last thing I should add is that when I say bullet, I really mean cartridge. Unfortunately, Children of the Sun commits the cardinal slow-motion sin of showing a bullet in flight as a full cartridge – case and primer still attached. Clearly, The Girl Portal Turret School of Ballistics (where Firing a full bullet means 65% more bullets per bullet!) It's a little silly in the scheme of things, but it's a pretty silly bug, and it's a shame it made it to the final product. I suppose you could make the argument that the girl's telekinetic powers would allow the unfired cartridge to move through the air like a lethal dart, but it doesn't really stand up. If that's true, why does it come out of a gun? Why does she need a gun? She can chuck killer cartridges into the air like Charlie Sheen in Hot Shots! Partial Dukes.

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