PC Games

Published on April 10th, 2024 | by Marc Rigg

Children of the Sun Review

Children of the Sun Review Marc Rigg

Summary: An innovative take on the sniping genre that never fails to offer up a unique challenge and engages throughout.



One of the most anticipated games from this year’s opening Steam Next Fest, Children of the Sun, solo developed by René Rother, is quite possibly the most interesting concept for a game that I’ve seen in a while.

The premise is a simple one, take apart the cult that destroyed your family, one member at a time. It’s a dark and grim narrative that’s presented in an extremely compelling manner.


Cutscenes between the individual levels progress the story, most are short, with minimal dialogue, and this being a Devolver Digital game, it often gets quite weird. It’s difficult to explain why without spoiling them, but imagine if ‘Not Important’ from Hatred had a sense of humour or even the slightest amount of self-awareness, and you’d be on the right lines.

Our unnamed protagonist is ‘The Girl’ and her preferred method of dealing with cultists is via a high-powered sniper rifle. The gameplay is centred entirely around this. In almost any given level you start by scouting the area, marking targets, and deciding on a plan of attack in a process remarkably similar to that of a Far Cry game when taking on an outpost.

Where it differs though, is in the execution. Firstly, you don’t have free movement, only left and right around the target area. Sometimes you can traverse the full perimeter, but most of the time you have a fairly limited area of movement to scout in. Once all the targets in the area have been marked and your shot planned, the only thing left is to line up the first cultist and pull the trigger.

This is where Children of the Sun changes things up even more. Levels have to be completed with a single bullet, the first shot will always be your last in any given attempt. Upon hitting your target, the game pauses, or rather, slows down to a crawl and you’re allowed to select a new one to fire at from the point of impact. As long as you hit the target each time, you can continue to take down opponents until none are left.

Levels are littered with explosive barrels. Cars and trucks have their fuel filler caps showing, a direct hit causing a huge explosion taking down anything that happens to be nearby, and even the local wildlife can all be chained together to give you a better angle on a hard-to-reach enemy.

The single-shot mechanic, enemy placement and quick retries on failure give the game more of a high-calibre puzzle game feel rather than any kind of sniping simulator. As the story progresses, abilities are unlocked to further open up what can be achieved with every shot.

A Wanted: Weapons of Fate-style bullet trajectory-bending mechanic is opened up early on. Hitting enemy weak points fill a meter that allows for the use of an ability to completely change the direction of a round mid-flight and the cultists get progressively tougher, deploying personal body armour, riot shields, and eventually, psychic powers.

The level design naturally ramps up in complexity as things progress to accommodate the new enemies and abilities and some incredibly creative designs make full use of the player’s arsenal. It’s rare to be able to get through a level using just the basic shot or curve after the opening few.

Some missions can be a little on the trial-and-error side of things, often the only clue as to the optimum way of completing a level is a small piece of cryptic flavour text at the start of the map. It’s usually intuitive though and doesn’t often take long to figure out a solution to a level. Anyone who has ever played Superhot will be able to tell you that it’s incredibly satisfying to pull off a complex set of shots perfectly, and Children of the Sun is no different in that regard. Putting together a complicated plan of action and then carrying it out flawlessly is very gratifying.

Simplistic graphics using chunky, polygonal models and low-resolution textures set the scene. Everything is dark and moody, only punctuated by the bright neon glow of the cultists and the odd barrel or sign illuminating the darkness. Along with the music, it goes a long way in setting the tone.

Speaking of the music, a melancholy ambiance fills every stage. It’s a very minimalist approach to sound design. It works here though, and further exaggerates the point that you’re sneaking around in the woods, about to do something unpleasant. Upon completion (or failure) it swings 180 degrees to explosive, grating drones that reverberate around the map. It really is quite an unpleasant noise, but it somehow works.

I feel like the presentation of all this might be a little divisive. I personally loved it, but it’s not going to be for everyone. The audio especially can be a little on the abrasive side after a while.

Final Thoughts?

Children of the Sun is a dark, wonderfully innovative take on the now-cliched outpost clearing of many open-world games. It’s incredibly satisfying when a plan all comes together and cultist after cultist falls to a perfectly executed series of meticulously aimed shots.

There’s a demo available, it’s fully Steam Deck verified (and runs flawlessly,) and the full game is less than $25. So far Children of the Sun is one of the best games that I’ve had the pleasure of playing this year and as such, it’s easy to recommend.

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