ReviewsReview: Imp of the Sun

Review: Imp of the Sun

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Everybody Loves the Sunshine

The sun is life. Without it, there is none. Sure there are many other factors that dictate whether or not life thrives. But the Sun is the OG, the giver of warmth, and the source of our beloved vitamin D. That’s why I’m thankful it’ll still be around for a couple billion more years.

However, in Imp of the Sun. This vital celestial body is in danger. Its power has been stolen and the moon has blocked its light from reaching the inhabitants of Earth. And so, trapped behind an eternal eclipse, the Sun sends forth one chosen champion. One last hail mary pass that will decide the fate of all life. An imp with no name, and one purpose: To find the four keepers of the sun’s power, and restore light to the world.

It’s a decent enough premise, however, it’s also an idea we’ve seen time and time again. It’s the classic, “retrieve an ancient power to stop the bad guys” plot. However, just because it’s something we’ve seen before doesn’t mean it’s bad. 

The plot it lays out is solid, it works and gives you just enough motivation before heading out and kicking some butt. Plus if you’re keen on more lore there are collectable items strewn throughout areas that add some more detail to the world. There are also many Quipu scattered around the environment. These are ancient Andean stringed recording devices that a wise woman will interpret for you. She’ll regale you with the events leading up to this point of eclipse for each quipu you deliver. This is where the plot began to take some more shape and set itself apart from the crowd. These provide some explanation for the state of things, and also provide depth to the four keepers you’ll be fighting. 

A Surprise To Be Sure, But a Welcome One

Imp of the Sun’s gameplay took me by surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting it to be bad. But I definitely didn’t expect to enjoy my time with it as much as I did. It’s an action platformer first and foremost, but there’s also some light puzzling and Metroidvania-styled exploration and level design to go with it. 

It’s non-linear in design and as soon as you complete the tutorial area you can go in any direction and tackle any of the four main areas. As you progress in each area you’ll come across useful abilities that help traversal. These are the classic wall jump, a dash, a blaze form that lights up dark areas, and a smoke form which can pass through certain objects. These added some great fluidity to the platforming, especially in moments when you flow from one ability to the next in order to reach an area. It made for some pretty exhilarating platforming sections.

Gaining these abilities is also where the Metroidvania elements come into play. When you enter an area there’ll be some blocked paths, and exploring an alternate route will bag you a new ability to overcome the obstacle. However, that was often where the Metroidvania aspect ended. 

Where There’s a Skill, There’s a Way

The skills you pick up aren’t always absolutely necessary in order to progress in areas due to the non-linear design of the title. They are simply necessary for the area you’re currently in. For example in the underworld area, things were dark as can be. The only sources of light were torches and my own body. On top of that, there were also enemies I couldn’t see or touch, making progress near impossible. Explore a bit though, and you find the blaze form. Now you can both light up the dark, and spot invisible enemies. 

Without the blaze form, it would have been a nightmare to conquer the underworld. However, it wasn’t really that necessary in any other area. There were definitely moments it came in handy though. As with all abilities, they can definitely make exploration easier, but they didn’t alter the routes you take or open up the new areas that they perhaps could have.

Platforming also had another layer of depth by way of the puzzles. These mostly come in two parts. One is to make use of the area’s required ability to figure out the path forward. The other is good old-fashioned switch flipping to move platforms for a limited time. These puzzles were always simple, and not all that difficult. But they were also always fun. Some basic problem solving and a little timing and you’re on your way. I may not have found much of a challenge in them, but each and every one was well-designed, adding a little extra something to traversal.

The Power of the Sun

Combat is what you’ll be spending the other half of your time engaging in. It’s a straightforward setup. You’ve got attacks in each direction both on the ground and in the air. Additionally your abilities often have some combat capabilities you can make use of. For example, the smoke form makes you invincible for as long as it’s active, and the blaze form adds some firepower to your attacks. Each of these use up your stamina/mana though, referred to as inner fire. 

Alongside your abilities, you can also collect upgrades to your ground and air combos, adding extra hits. But more importantly, you can acquire extra powerful moves after defeating each keeper. From a fireball, to freezing enemies in place. These all added great variety to combat. But they also made things awfully easy.

The imp is crazy overpowered compared to regular enemies and I rarely ever had much of an issue in fights. In fact, they’d be over in a matter of seconds when using combos and abilities together. I’d even argue combat was too easy. Even in the boss fights against the keepers, save for one occasion.

The desert boss, Tui, was such an unexpectedly challenging fight that it felt like it came out of nowhere. After wiping the floor with everyone, even another boss, this guy absolutely wrecked me almost 15 times before I beat him. He was brutal, rarely ever giving me the chance to heal before he came rushing at me. Not once before, or after did any fight in this game come close to that. Not even the final boss, which took a couple of tries. It was a little strange how tough that boss fight was when compared to every other battle. Honestly, though, I’d almost prefer that, to how easy the rest of the game felt at times. 

Take It All In

Yours is an epic journey into the unknown. Taking you from the darkest depths of the underworld, to steep cliffed mountaintops. And every leg of that journey was gorgeous. Imp of the Sun is beautifully hand-drawn, which adds so much character and heart to environments. The Peruvian art style is filled with lush backgrounds, and gold-tinged accents that I simply loved looking at. 

Enemies may be a bit unbalanced, and puzzle platforming may be a bit on the easy side. However, Imp of the Sun might just take you by surprise they way it did for me. This title is a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

SUMMARY

+ Great, fluid platforming
+ Depth to combat
+ Gorgeous art style
+/- Fun puzzles, if a bit easy
- Most enemies are too easy

(Reviewed on PC, also available on PS4, PS5, Xbox one, Xbox Series X/S & Nintendo Switch)
Jonah Ehlers
Jonah Ehlers
A lover of films, dogs and cooking, even though I'm terrible at it most days. Ever since my first console (the legendary PS2) I have had an immense love for Video games. It has given me some of my favourite memories, my closest friends and countless hours of fun.

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Review: Imp of the Sun+ Great, fluid platforming <br /> + Depth to combat <br /> + Gorgeous art style <br /> +/- Fun puzzles, if a bit easy <br /> - Most enemies are too easy <br /> <br /> (Reviewed on PC, also available on PS4, PS5, Xbox one, Xbox Series X/S & Nintendo Switch)