Children of the Sun Review – Bathing in the blood of your enemies

Reviewed April 10, 2024 on PC




April 9, 2024


Devolver Digital


René Rother

Children of the Sun is a revenge story that has you in the driver’s seat of a sniper assassin, hell-bent on taking down each and every individual member of the cult that did you wrong. Using a supernatural bullet that can change trajectory or speed at a moment’s whim, you must work through a gauntlet of levels, in each given instance taking down all targets in an environment with One. Single. Bullet.

Developed by René Rother and published by Devolver Digital, the studio that helped release some of your favourite indie games of the last decade, on offer is another stylish experience that this time is part shooter part puzzler. If you’re like me and have a weird nostalgia for 2000’s era Flash browser sniping games, you will not want to miss this.

You control a character known as THE GIRL. In twenty-something odd missions, you’re loaded into a 3D environment where ahead of you lies an encampment of a series of enemy cultists, reflected as yellow polygonal silhouettes. Obviously, as you’re a sniper, you can’t get up close and personal with these mooks. To handle this, THE GIRL can only circle the environment on a 2D plain, moving left or right, sometimes getting a full 360-degree scan of the environment, sometimes only receiving a limited scope as you’re eventually blocked off by a building, cliffside and the like. It’s up to the player then to instill a little faith in themselves. In this one angle, I can view the most people possible but another gets me a sweet spot that looks more accustomed to chaining together kills. These are constant toss-ups I had with myself as I worked out how to tackle a level. A level doesn’t end until you deal with everyone in one fell swoop. Needless to say, you’re going to have to put in the work.

How taking everyone down in one go works is, thanks to your supernatural bullet, your bullet trajectory doesn’t end when knocking down one foe. The bullet will continue onward and with some limited but concise steering of the bullet you’ll be able to at any given moment ping-pong to something else to keep your momentum going. That isn’t limited to human targets, either. Landing a direct shot on the lid of a fuel tank on a car or a fuel can itself keeps your run going, proving as not only a possible last-ditch effort if a target isn’t quite in view but also a means of doing collateral damage, causing an explosion and taking out several cultists in one go. One tricky late level had me circling a building with my bullet, taking down everyone aptly but never quite getting in reach of someone on the roof. It’s then that I remembered an early lesson I was tutorialised. Birds count as an objects to bounce off of. This was what got me through, getting me a good bird’s eye view of the map to get off that last shot. That’s my tip for struggling players. When all else fails, look to the skies and you will see the way.

Children of the Sun does what games like Hitman do best: give you a setpiece sandbox and leave it up to you to create further magic and chaos with it. A motel that has you going from the pool to darting in and out of rooms through connecting doors and windows. A brutalist concrete apartment complex that initially feels nigh impenetrable to snake your way around. Even speeding down a highway hot in pursuit of a fleet of cars as you ping-pong your bullet between gas tanks, passengers and drivers. No matter the level, action is explosive and puzzles are a real thinker and joy to unravel.

The game also without fail endlessly oozes style throughout its journey. With the levels all taking place during dusk, the world is always illuminated in a striking and rich purple hue. The cutscenes you do get that piece together the story are still graphic novel images but there’s noise and distortion to them, along with harsh music chords backing it, all to further highlight the trauma and tragedy THE GIRL has gone through due to being in previous close proximity to the cult. Clicking the right button when you’re in the shot preparation stage moves or removes the mask in THE GIRL’s possession. When you’re moving her, a series of soft electric guitar strums back you. Like a guitarist before their big song, this is her warming up for her big art piece. Neat tidbits and flourishes like this are aplenty and drive the stellar atmosphere forward.

My favourite touch is the fact that not only does the end of a level show a leaderboard with your score (determined by how quickly you finish, distance traveled, etc), but your bullet trajectory is mapped out on a panned-out bird’s eye view of the level. You witness all the times your paths cross over one another, often painting a striking and picturesque constellation of chaos. I can see here where I took down that guy through that one tricky corner or through a window and so on. I’m not admittedly all that good at score-chasing games but I did manage to at times of playing to top the leaderboards on a level where my prettiest constellation is laid out yet. There’s something poetic about creating a milky way of murdered rapists and abusive, pedophilic cultists. Their lives weren’t left up to fate, but my hands alone. It might go without saying but I found this very cathartic. In one level, a flavour text line aptly reads: I just killed a man. Now I’m horny. Me too, game.

Maybe this is more on me and my want for more games to better explore their ideas and mechanics, but I kept expecting Children of the Sun to run out of ideas or taper off. Though it never did. The game took me about six hours to beat and some of those later levels took a good chunk of time longer than the normal few minutes they otherwise would. This is because the difficulty ramps up naturally along with the later introduced mechanics. As you start you only have a small limited amount of control with the bullet, slowing time mid-flight by holding the right mouse button. This gives you just a little bit of wiggle room to ever so slightly curve your bullet to where it needs to go. Later on, enemies with weak points are introduced. Bank two weak point kills and you now have a charge, used to wholly change the bullet direction entirely. This is handy for functions such as needing the way you just came from after killing a target to line up the next shot.

Then riot shield enemies that must be flanked are introduced. Then speeding up your bullet is introduced, necessary for taking out more heavily armored cultists. Though be careful, you need good travel distance for these. A point-blank shot isn’t going to cut it. There are also hidden challenges in each level, only indicated to you by a brief one-liner as you start, with vague descriptors such as “He is blocking the entrance.” It’s up to you to work out exactly what this means and what the conditions are to fill it. The ones I did work out are genuinely surprising and inventive, exploring the levels in new ways. Between all these mechanics plus the base challenge of moving targets and complex environments, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into. 99.9% of it absolutely worth it. There is little to no fat here.

The only time that Children of the Sun does let up is that, obviously, the trial and error process of nailing a level that won’t be for all. There are a small handful of gimmick levels to break things up and they’re always delivered strikingly and to deliver the backstory, with one memorable one in particular finding an artful and impactful way to drive home some of the stuff THE GIRL has been through. It’s in other levels like one where you are playing a simulated game of Pacman where you are collecting bullets instead of pellets (that also don’t handle all that well) that I can’t help but wonder if they needed to be there in the first place. Thankfully, these are incredibly few and far between.

With Children of the Sun, a lot of comparisons can be drawn to games like SUPERHOT and Sniper Elite and even movies like the 2008 action classic Wanted. However, though the inspirations are undeniable these do a partial discredit to the entire experience created here by René Rother. This is a very pulpy game with a meaningful story to tell full of intricacies and subtletities. The fact it does all this while providing some of the best and most rewarding sniping gameplay in years is quite the feat. As someone that’s all about the vibes when it comes to games, Children of the Sun ticks every goddamned box.




  • Inventive and creative puzzler-shooter
  • Oozing with style
  • Substance and poetic depth in its crumbs of writing and visual storytelling
  • Leaderboard and challenge chasing fun


  • One or two gimmick levels aren't the most exciting

Children of the Sun is an incredibly vivid and creative puzzler-shooter. It is thoroughly engaging to find the perfect thread of headshots to line up, poking holes in a setpiece cultist encampment, linking each bloody kill to the next with both finesse and inventive solutions. It is quite simply the best sniping game I’ve ever played and, better yet, it has a story, vibes and atmosphere you just want to bathe in, much like the blood of your enemies. In the plethora of ‘cool’ video games to have graced our screens over the years, Children of the Sun is near the tippy top.