With its gripping one-shot gameplay hook and slew of creative bullet-bending ideas, Children of the Sun is one puzzle-shooter that DEFINITELY deserves your attention.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Children of the Sun puts players in the role of The Girl, who found her world torn apart by a cult that had promised her family a ‘better life’. You seek vengeance, and what better way to achieve that than by popping some skulls with a sniper rifle? It’s a good old fashioned revenge tale that never over-complicates itself with drawn out narrative details, but instead keeps things condensed and intriguing as you work your way towards taking out The Leader.

The core gameplay loop has players moving between levels, scoping them out for enemies to mark, and then taking them out, with each locale offering a set area to move between beforehand that allows you to spot targets and pick the perfect location to take your shot. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, what makes Children of the Sun unique is the fact that you’re only able to fire one shot, meaning it has to be perfectly executed if you want to hit all targets.

Fortunately, you have a few tricks up your sleeve when firing your shot to ensure that your one bullet is put to good use. For one, you’re able to redirect your bullet when killing an enemy, meaning your bullet is never wasted and can instead be used to line up the next headshot. Do it again and you can move onto the next target, with your bullet able to be continually redirected with each successful kill until you either take out all enemies in a level or miss a shot. This is why it’s so important to mark all targets before taking your shot, with it then easier to track who you need to kill and plot out the best order to take them out for maximum efficiency.

“Whilst the core mechanics of Children of the Sun are simple enough, it introduces enough diversity with its enemies to ensure the challenge remains consistent and thrilling throughout.”

It adds a brilliant puzzle-like element to each level where your success relies more on your planning skills than your ability to shoot, with it easy to pull off headshots but trickier to ensure that you’ll set yourself up for the next shot. Things become more complex as you progress through the game too, whether that’s with enemies that are hidden out of sight and have to be spotted in the middle of taking your shot, armoured enemies who require the bullet to build up momentum before it’s able to penetrate them, mobile targets that require you to anticipate their movement in order to hit, or even psychic foes that can throw off the trajectory of your bullet when it is in their sight. Whilst the core mechanics of Children of the Sun are simple enough, it introduces enough diversity with its enemies to ensure the challenge remains consistent and thrilling throughout.

Fortunately, there’ll be things for the player to take advantage of to deal with the ever-evolving threat. See an explosive barrel? Blow that up and you’ll kill multiple enemies at once. See an enemy that’s slightly out of reach? Shoot a bird in the sky and you’ll be able to line up your shot from above, making that enemy an easier target to hit. You’ll eventually be able to curve your bullets too, allowing you to pull off trick shots that aren’t only imperative to your success but also feel really, really cool.

Each aspect comes together perfectly to make for a unique and compelling experience that’s sure to keep both shooting and puzzling fans entertained. Kudos has to be given to the level design too, which manages to continually implement creative set pieces that’ll keep your brain working as you figure out the PERFECT way to take out all foes. Whilst there were a few instances where I relied on trial-and-error as opposed to appropriate planning (and the fact that enemies respond to your actions does mean you always have to be ready to improvise), the satisfying flow of taking out enemies ensures that the experience always remains rewarding.

Check out some screenshots down below:

It is worth noting that Children of the Sun is more ‘short and sweet’ than anything though, with it easily beaten in around three hours – this could vary depending on how quickly you manage to figure levels out, but it’s not an especially big experience. Honestly? I think this works in its favour, especially since the condensed nature of the game ensures that it manages to introduce new mechanics at a steady pace without allowing any aspect of the experience to grow repetitive. There’s also a scoring system in place that judges things like the distance of each kill, the time you spent in a level, or the body part that you struck, so there’s an incentive in place to re-play levels if you want to see yourself work up the leaderboard. Admittedly, the lack of rewards tied to this was a little disappointing (and stopped me from being too invested in score chasing), but those who want to see their name at the top of the leaderboard will enjoy mastering each level to maximise their score.

Finally, I can’t end this review without mentioning the visuals, which I absolutely adored. Its dark and somewhat eerie aesthetic is brought to life by both the bursts of colour that come with each kill and the radiating light sources that emanate across levels, and honestly, it looks FANTASTIC in-game and fits the atmospheric tone of the experience perfectly.

Children of the Sun Review

Children of the Sun is a fantastic experience that blends together time-bending shooting with clever puzzling mechanics in a uniquely creative fashion. Plotting out my kills across each level was always satisfying, whilst the introduction of new mechanics and enemy types as I progressed ensured that the experience never seemed to run out of ideas.

It is a bit on the short side and it’s a shame there aren’t any unlockables to incentivise score-chasing, but these issues don’t stop Children of the Sun from being one of the more unique and exciting shooters that I’ve played in a long time.

Developer: René Rother
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)
Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1309950/Children_of_the_Sun/