Review: Children of the Sun Is an Unusual Pleasure

Video games often fall into predetermined categories or genres–it’s not very often that I find something novel. It’s wonderful, then, to play a game that is harder to put into any category. Children of the Sun is a game where you play a sniper–but it’s not really an action game., You’re not dodging enemy attacks, or even sneaking around to avoid detection.  In fact, it’s just as much a puzzle game as it is an action game–it’s about where to place your next shot so you can finish the chain.

Children of the Sun is described as a “tactical puzzle shooter” on its Steam Store page and I don’t think I can put it any better than that. You play as a young woman on a path of vengeance against the cult that ruined her life, and led to her parents’ demise. It’s told in a style that has to be inspired by Mork Borg–a tabletop role-playing game that was popular a few years back. It not only matches the visual style of that game, but also fits it tonally: You play as THE GIRL as she takes on THE CULT with the ultimate goal of defeating THE LEADER. The story is told in flashbacks as you go merrily onward with your murderous rampage.

Screenshot: Children of the Sun

THE GIRL is not just an ordinary girl, either. She has telekinetic control over the bullet that she shoots. You only get one bullet per level–but that’s all you need.The Sniper Elite series had its famous bullet cam, but in Children of the Sun, you are the bullet. 

When a bullet is fired in most games it hits (or misses) its target as is spent. In Children of the Sun if you successfully hit a target, you can immediately “shoot” that bullet to the next target. Eventually, you start to be able to control the trajectory of the bullet, and even make it turn around. Each viable target you hit means you can move the bullet to its next location. Hit something other than a target that’s fleshy or explode-y, and you fail the level, having to start again.The difficulty isn’t just hitting targets, but maintaining the continuous chain.

Screenshot: Children of the Sun

It’s the strangest sniper game I've ever played, and actually plays on the strength that a video game would allow over a simulation of the real thing. Because, let’s face it: being a sniper in real life is kind of boring, and requires a surprising amount of math. 

Enemies in Children of the Sun don’t fight back–and even if they could they wouldn’t stand a chance. All of the action happens in moments from their perspective, even though time moves in slow motion for THE GIRL. Save for one level that has you driving a car, there is no threat to your character unless you manage to aim the bullet back at yourself–which is hilariously possible. That doesn’t mean enemies don’t pose challenges–some are armored, carry shields, are moving, or have telekinetic abilities of their own. All of these different enemy types require different strategies.

Screenshot: Children of the Sun

Children of the Sun is something that I feel like I would come across on itch.io or one of the indie video game parties I used to cover. It’s violent, but in a stylized way. Aesthetically, Children of the Sun pleases me greatly. It has a  lo-fi art house style that I’m totally into. Its gameplay is unconventional–and it gets changed up often enough through its play time that it never overextends its welcome. In fact, Children of the Sun is able to be played in a few hours. Its levels are challenging, but not impossibly hard, so if you want more you can always challenge yourself to climb the leaderboards.

I’m not sure if Children of the Sun is going to create any big splashes–but it's definitely worth prying yourself away from Helldivers II to play through. It's a game unlike any I’ve ever played before, and that’s getting increasingly difficult to say. 

Children of the Sun is available today on Steam.

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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.