Children of the Sun review for PC

Platform: PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: René Rother
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

If you jump back a decade or so to when Hotline Miami first came out (What’s that? It’s been more than a decade?? I’m not sure how to process that.), one of the more interesting things about the discussions surrounding that game was seeing people realize that deep down, beneath the gore and the gaudy artwork and druggy atmosphere, it was actually a puzzle game. A very bloody puzzle game, mind you, but a puzzle game nonetheless.

I’m reminded of that as I play Children of the Sun. It’s an ultra-violent, blood-filled spectacle with a very distinctive visual flair – but the more you play it, the more you realize it’s actually a really challenging puzzle game.

It doesn’t look like it at first, to be sure. If anything, it feels like an extension of the Sniper Elite series, with its focus on long-range sniping. You play on the outskirts of various camps and mark off all your targets, and then you take your shot.

That’s shot, singular, because you only get one – which is where the puzzle aspect comes in. While you control the sniper – known only as THE GIRL, a victim of a cult out for revenge – while she’s on the outskirts of the cult camps, you have much more freedom once you fire the bullet and you suddenly get to control the bullet as it slices through the air. Every time you hit a target, you’re suddenly able to choose your next direction, and if you miss – say, if the bullet hits a wall, or if it flies out of bounds – you fail the level.

While this may sound easy enough at first, it doesn’t take long before the difficulty ramps up and you’re forced to explore all kinds of nooks and crannies where people are scattered throughout the map. To account for this, Children of the Sun adds in things like birds and highly explosive cars, which explode in appropriately messy and fiery ways, respectively. This means there’s a constant flow of trial and error in every level, until you finally get the victims in just the right order.

The drawback to this, of course, is that Children of the Sun doesn’t have a great deal of replay value. Sure you can go back to levels to try for a higher score, but unless you really care about leaderboards, it’s not really worth it. Once you’ve played the game through once, that’s pretty much all you’re going to get out of it.

Good thing, then, that one playthrough of Children of the Sun is all you need to love the game. Like Hotline Miami a decade ago it stretches the limits of what a puzzler can be into some bloody places, and it pulls it off so well that you can’t help but enjoy every minute of it.

Devolver Digital provided us with a Children of the Sun PC code for review purposes.

Score: 8