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Children of the Sun review - A moody, emotive sniper-puzzle shooter dripping with style

Children of the Sun is a short but special game that is definitely bang for your buck.

A review score from VG247 and the logo for Children of the Sun are shown in front of an image of THE GIRL
Image credit: Devolver Digital/VG247

The description of Children of the Sun tells you everything that you need to know without telling you much at all. You are THE GIRL, an ex-member of THE CULT who once promised you a simpler life. Instead, they made your life hell. Now, you’re hunting down members of THE CULT, exterminating each and every one of them using your mind-bending abilities, as you attempt to reach THE LEADER.

But what exactly is this cult all about? How did they ruin THE GIRL’s life, and what are they capable of? Well, the answers are not handed to you on a silver platter, but instead drip-fed to you by some beautifully illustrated cutscenes and a detailed, moody environment that the game places THE GIRL in. This is something you’ll get up close and personal with in this sniper-puzzle shooter, where time slows as you realign your bullet, giving you plenty of time to soak in the surroundings as you plan your next move. All-in-all, however, a lot of THE GIRL’s story is open to interpretation.

There’s one thing we can all agree on, though: she's out for revenge.

Children of the Sun is made up of levels which each whisk you away to a different part of THE CULT’s base of operations; there are gas stations, long stretches of highway, apartment buildings, and more little slices of suburbia. As you visit each one, you’ll have exactly one bullet to carefully ricochet between targets of varying difficulty to complete the level.

Members of THE CULT appear in different forms; armored enemies require plenty of distance between them and your bullet, and psychic enemies can deflect your shot. So, you’re forced to get creative as THE GIRL gets closer to THE LEADER – especially where cars, birds, and other environmental targets are involved.

That’s right. Find yourself stuck and unable to locate a target? This happens, sometimes, and you’ll often need to rely on abilities unlocked later in the game - ones that allow you to change your bullet’s path mid-flight - to continue moving. Think The Matrix, but dripping with style.

Other times, you’ll need to find a car or bird to destroy instead, or start again and locate another route to try. It’s frustrating when you don’t know where to go next, but this makes Children of the Sun satisfying. The sound of the bullet meeting a target becomes more pleasurable if you’ve had to fight tooth and nail to sight them, and shoot them. Factor in THE GIRL’s plight, and struggle against THE CULT'S oppression and violence, and suddenly ultra-violent reckoning becomes nigh-euphoric.

THE GIRL runs around a watchtower looking at members of THE CULT to target in Children of the Sun
Image credit: Devolver Digital

Children of the Sun was recommended to me by another VG247 writer, Sherif, after I discussed how I loved the vibrant violence of Hotline Miami and the fact that there is, actually, a rather dark, unnerving plot beneath the surface in a recent episode of the VG247 Best Games Podcast. Children of the Sun is indeed similar, albeit more explicit in its story, and anyone who enjoys a short, violent rendezvous packed with vibrant colors, ominous music, and a mysterious protagonist will no doubt love the few hours that they spend with the game.

You’ll find yourself hooked from the get-go by its distinctive art style, and then you'll find yourself hauled along for the ride as you strive to see THE GIRL seek the vengeance she is desperately, single-mindedly on the hunt for.

Each level is followed by a map, showing the path that your bullet followed, alongside a scoreboard of fellow players' achievements. This gives Children of the Sun an arcade-feel, amongst everything else. But, more importantly, gives me a much larger incentive to actually replay the game. If you love chasing high scores, Children of the Sun has ample routes for every level, so there’s no need to complete each sector in the same way as you did before. Oh, and let’s not neglect the fact that d*ck shots will net you additional points. This is a game published by Devolver Digital, after all.

A gas station full of members of THE CULT is shown in Children of the Sun
Image credit: Devolver Digital

To be violent and solemn, while simultaneously forcing you to kick your puzzle-solving skills into gear and really think – it's a phenomenal achievement. Both in your sharpshooting and your narrative detective skills, you'll need to engage your brain. Cults are often oppressive, demanding, and controlled by a charismatic leader, and Children of the Sun captures that with aplomb, alongside the grief, anger, and isolation that those who leave cults can experience. It’s deeply emotive at the best of times. Even better when it diffuses that tension with a giggle after you've just shot a cultist in the balls, anyway.

Cutscenes consist of stunning illustrations that flash onto your screen, bereft of any dialogue, and wholly open to player interpretation. We see revenge stories across fictional media all the time, and we’re often taught that revenge isn’t exactly something that we should strive for in any capacity. But in Children of the Sun, you’re shown exactly why someone would commit atrocities in the name of revenge. You’re made to think about it, the implications of it, and what will eventually come of THE GIRL once her story concludes. It's Tarantino-level, but actually pulled off well.

THE GIRL wades through a watery area full of floating televisions in Children of the Sun
Image credit: Devolver Digital

Children of the Sun was a shot in the dark for the Berlin-based developer, Rene Rother, who developed the game while working full-time before finally biting the bullet and shooting an email over to Devolver Digital about publishing the game. In an interview with Paste Magazine, Rene Rother detailed how Devolver told them that its pitch was s**t, but the game looked cool, so now here we are.

It’s safe to assume Rene Rother is happy with how things turned out. How could you not be, when you've created something like Children of the Sun? It is a genuine pleasure from start to finish, as dark and uncomfortable as it may be. But for every moment that might make you grimace, there is satisfaction to be found in seeking THE GIRL’s revenge, and destroying THE CULT is definitely a damned good way to spend 5-6 hours of your time.


Children of the Sun was reviewed on PC with a code provided by the publisher. It releases today, April 9, on PC via Steam.

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