Imp of the Sun Switch Review – This Little Light of Mine
Imp of the Sun was announced for Switch suddenly last month, and it surprisingly released shortly after. This is an indie action platformer with stunning graphics and draws directly from Peruvian culture and mythology. The people from Fireshine games were kind enough to provide us a review code after meeting them at WASD, and this is one that I have personally been looking forward to.
So is Imp of the Sun an indie title worthy of the gods attention? Or are the gods going to be angry about this one? Let’s find out!
In Imp of the Sun, you play as Nin, an Imp created from the final spark of the Sun, who is sent on an adventure to defeat the Four Keepers and restore the Sun’s power, ending the Eternal Eclipse before the world is plunged into darkness. Stolen by the Four Keepers centuries ago and hidden in the distant corners of the Empire, life cannot go on without the Sun’s power. With its dying spark the Sun creates Nin, sending him on an adventure to bring back the light and restore balance to the Empire.
As a creature of the Sun, you have the power of its flame at your fingertips. You will refine your skills throughout the game and learn combo-based combat and discover new abilities to become more powerful as you venture across the Sun’s Empire to defeat the Four Keepers.
It was honestly so refreshing how quickly the game gets started. The opening segment and storytelling does not beat around the bush. Instead, it blasts right to the point, informs you of what is going on, and instructs you on what to do. I guess I have been so used to overly long opening narratives that I almost forgot that you can communicate everything quickly and precisely, and that is exactly what Imp of the Sun does. Not the most complex story, but it doesn’t need to be. It gets you right into the game with little-to-no wait!
Where things get a bit strange is in the gameplay, though. The movement and combat are not as fluid as initially advertised, and I noticed this immediately when trying to do some standard platforming. Nin is a bit floaty with the jumps, and depending on the momentum, the first jump will be pretty standard followed by the second jump throwing you well past the expected platform. This does not resolve itself over time, and even when getting new powerups, it only makes the platforming feel a bit more off.
Combat similarly does not feel quite right. I am not so sure if it is the programming for Nin or for the enemies, but there were too many times in the game where I took damage and honestly could not tell if it was my fault or not. That is not a good feeling, especially when you are playing a tough-as-nails action platformer that leans on unforgiving. Thankfully, respawning is pretty quick and painless (Although you do lose a little amount of orbs) so you can get right back into the action, but the amount of times that it did feel genuinely unfair was quite high.
Since Imp of the Sun is an action platformer, it does lean on the metroidvania-style of gameplay, meaning that more and more of the map and areas will open up as you gain more items and collect power-ups. The maps are not so large, but considering the difficulty, you will be spending lots of time in the same area trying over and over again. One thing I was not a fan of was the lack of a standard metroidvania map, as this would have helped tremendously in backtracking and collecting things I was not able to access before. Instead, Imp of the Sun has a very basic pictograph map that simply shows the fast travel points across the whole world.
One of the things that stands out is the openness of the early go. Basically, you can choose to go multiple ways after hitting the initial switch in the tutorial section. All four paths to all Four Keepers are available to you from the start, but progressing in the normal metroidvania way is unavailable. What I mean is that the big power-up from each section is needed to be obtained in order to do all the things in all the areas, and collecting these power-ups requires defeating an extra tough enemy in a purple aura.
After obtaining the power-up of an area, you can continue to explore that area or move on to another. There is no linear path, per say, but collecting all of the power-ups and obtaining orbs from enemies in order to level up is crucial for boss fights, because they are probably the most difficult thing in the game, both from a technical perspective and also from a bizarre programming perspective.
You see, the Four Keepers are tough, as they should be. They each have great movesets and provide serious challenges. However, I found that the bosses did not even follow their own patterns many times, and that made some experiences with them incredibly frustrating since no two fights really felt alike, despite the fact that they do the same moves. This is because timing is random, so the pauses between moves are inconsistent and do not allow for any trustworthy moments of attack. Basically, you need to be quick with a strike, get out of the way, and anticipate the next attack. They are strange because of this, but they are still epic and fun despite.
The most interesting part of Imp of the Sun is the solar mechanic and how light refills your energy meter. There is even a Hollow Knight-like ability where you stand in place charging from your energy to refill your health, which is crucial in certain battles, including boss ones. What makes this mechanic even more interesting is that each area provides different challenges to it. It is abundant in one place, completely missing in another, and even wet in a different place, which is a problem for a little sun spark. This creates some excellent puzzles in each area, and even ramps up some of the combat.
Graphically, Imp of the Sun is a stunning title that oozes with Peruvian imagery and iconography. It has a very unique look about it, and the combination of different art styles actually looks awesome. Even traveling between areas, the loading screens provide wonderful artwork that showcases Nin in different settings. It is a lovely little addition to the game, and it does make the transitions to areas much more tolerable.
The music is absolutely outstanding. For me, this is the best aspect of Imp of the Sun. Each track is so powerful and draws completely from its cultural influences, and the fluidity of song changes from area to area also needs to be highlighted. The characters who talk to Nin throughout the game are hit and miss for me. The little girl provides some assistance along the journey, but she does come off more Navi-like than anything else, as she does vocally jump onto the screen at random times, almost interrupting what you are doing. Thankfully, this does not happen too much, but when it does, it is a bit annoying.
Imp of the Sun is an unconventional metroidvania that does many things its own way while also implementing ideas from other giants in the genre. The story is solid yet simple, the puzzle ideas in each area are tons of fun, the art styles are wonderful, and the music is outstanding. Sadly, though, the gameplay does take a hit because of some floaty feelings while platforming, and combat is a weird one that just feels like something is off. Also, why in the world is their no metroidvani-style map for this game? Backtracking is a nightmare because of it.
Despite those flaws, Imp of the Sun is still a solid game that provides a lot of challenging gameplay, tough-as-nails bosses, and a story that is worth completing. It may not be everyone’s cup of tear, especially metroidvania fans looking for something conventional, but there is something special buried deep within this title that definitely deserves to be experienced.
Imp of the Sun Switch Review provided by Nintendo Link
Publisher: Sold Out, Fireshine Games
Developers: Sunwolf Entertainment
Release Date: March 24th, 2022
Price: $19.99, £15.99, €19,99
Game Size: 1.1 GB
Fun, simple story
Excellent gameplay mechanics and puzzles
Beautiful combination of art styles
Platforming is floaty
Combat feels a bit off
Lack of a metroidvania-style map
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.