Children Of The Sun

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Children Of The Sun (PC) – Review

“Children of the Sun” is a bizarre type of shooter game; it’s not particularly heavy on the fast-paced, action-heavy side of the shooter genre. Instead, it’s about thinking like a sniper. Created by developer, René Rother, and published by Devolver Digital, “Children of the Sun” encourages players to scope out the field before taking a single shot – one that can weave a path of destruction in an incredibly satisfying way that outshines the typical sniper-style gameplay I’ve come to expect.

A creepy masked sniper, known only as The Girl, is on the warpath to hunt down members of the Children of the Sun cult. This cult promises its followers a life away from modern society and a simpler life. It appears The Girl’s family sought refuge with them, but as expected, the cultists don’t quite deliver as promised. What mysteries do unfold come in the form of bitter and twisted cutscenes with a very sketchy, graphic novel style. There are supernatural happenings and a deep vendetta against The Leader, which our scary sniper is too intense to follow in a path of cold, brutal vengeance.

The story is quite cryptic, with just a few hints during the graphic, violent cutscenes. It was the gameplay where “Children of the Sun” really shines. The sniper works through a series of dreary, dark settings, ranging from a cult camp to a trainyard, with moving trains to throw off your shots and small towns where stranger things appear to be happening. Maps vary, with the occasional mini-game level in between, which aren’t overly exciting but break up stages nicely. Movement is restricted to the area’s perimeter, meaning it’s a good idea to check out the zone from all angles to get the full lay of the land.

I appreciated the unlimited time I had to plan my attack before firing the shot. Using the scope, the sniper can zoom in and mark targets to plan the best approach to take them out. The Children of the Sun cultists glow a radiant gold, so it’s not hard to see them; you just have to get the right angle. With just one shot, meticulous planning matters. Upon your first hit, the player enters a first-person view from the bullet’s perspective, making this an extraordinary sharpshooter.

The Girl can bullet-bend, using a skill called “Trajectory Change,” allowing you to target the next enemy. To top it off, there are additional abilities, such as slowing down into “bullet-time” and massively speeding up bullets to pack an extra punch. The moment when the slug hits is thrilling, with slow-motion limbs exploding everywhere when a weak spot is hit.

There’s plenty of time to plan the next cultist to send the shot toward, but there are still plenty of obstacles to keep it challenging, like moving objects, set pieces that obscure vision, and more types of cultists. Using the environment, like bouncing the bullet off cars or birds, or hitting an explosive object, can alter the course of the attempt. It all comes down to having a decent amount of planning and adjusting as needed once the bullet is loose.

The difficulty ramps up as the sniper progresses, introducing more complex maps. Becoming skilled in “Children of the Sun” comes down to patience. Once you master a skill, more is thrown at players, and it is harder to target enemies in buildings, moving trains, other obstacles, and heavily armoured enemies.

Scoring is based on bullet path, time taken, distance and bonuses based on body parts shot. Post-level, players can see their ranking against others and whether they reached the scoreboard. I replayed stages frequently to rise through the ranks. Each stage has a bonus objective for extra points, with a hint that it’s hiding in plain sight.

The edgy and gritty art style can be pretty disconcerting initially – it’s intense. Likewise, the music and audio take a bit to adjust to. While minimalistic, dark ambience exists in each stage, and the occasional sharp musical stinger or staticky sound effects can be overwhelming. While I enjoy the base game, some of the impacts, such as some being light and noise-sensitive, severe sounds, and flashing effects, can be too much to handle, and while there is a warning for photosensitive players before the game starts, I would have liked options to reduce them, rather than options to turn off motion blur and rumble.

Control-wise, the game can be played on a mouse and keyboard, or with a controller. Moving the mouse left and right allows the player to move around the map’s outer edge, and other controls are easy to pick up thanks to the small tutorials each time a new mechanic is introduced. I preferred playing on a mouse and keyboard to line up the shot for such a precision-based game, and the use of the scroll wheel to zoom in with the scope was a nice touch. As a bonus, it’s playable on Steamdeck for on-the-go players.

Children of the Sun masters the art of sniping in video games, with its different angle toward shooting mechanics and a more slow-paced methodical approach that works surprisingly well. Despite some sensory overload, I had a great time taking vengeance on cultists in a game that takes the shooter genre on a new trajectory.

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The Good

  • Moreish, tactical gameplay
  • Unique approach to sniper/shooter games

The Bad

  • Story scenes are very short and nondescript
  • Flashing lights and gritty sound effects can be overwhelming
  • Quite a large difficulty spike to overcome mid-way
7
___
10

Written by: Yasmin Noble

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