There’s nothing worse than imprecise controls in a platforming game, and that’s Imp of the Sun‘s biggest issue.
Released in March on PC and consoles, Imp of the Sun is a 2D platforming adventure that casts you as Nin, an imp tasked with taking down the Four Keepers in order to restore the power of the sun. A big ask for such a tiny creature. But Nin is rather capable – he himself has been created from a fragment of the sun, and so embodies powerful skills that will help him along the way. His inner fire allows him to heal, and a range attach along with quick melee skills means he’s well prepared for battle.
And so, making your way through Imp of the Sun, you’ll find yourself faced with plenty of combat opportunities but also lots of platforming and puzzles to contend with. There are a lot of switch-based timer puzzles, requiring you to activate a switch and, for instance, reach an open doorway before the time runs out. Or perhaps you’ll need to retrieve a key which will let you progress through a locked door further on in a level.
It’s all very nice to look at. Imp of the Sun uses beautiful 2D artwork to bring its world to life. There’s a great use of colour and lighting, with rich, warm colours presenting a world that you can’t wait to explore. There seems a very clear inspiration here, however: Ori and the Blind Forest and its sequel have surely had a hand in inspiring Sunwolf Entertainment, the developer behind Imp of the Sun. The gameplay and its themes reminded us very much of Ori’s adventure – even the presentation in the trailer feels familiar.
But that’s not a bad thing, and Imp of the Sun does plenty to differentiate itself from Moon Studios’ excellent duology. Imp of the Sun pays homage to Peruvian heritage with its art (and its soundtrack), giving it a feeling all of its own. Its character design and the relics you’ll come across while playing have been based on real-world Andean culture. As Sunwolf says on the game’s Steam page, it’s about “celebrating the civilizations that once roamed and ruled Peru”. It’s a nice touch.
As much as we enjoy Imp of the Sun‘s art style and inspirations, however, one big thing lets the game down for us: Nin’s movement. Press left or right, and Nin initially feels cumbersome. Keep holding the same direction, however, and he’ll speed up. Great in principle, because nobody likes moving slowly. But it also makes him unwieldly, and when much of Imp of the Sun requires precise movements and perfect jumps onto small, crumbling ledges, it can mean the difference between life or death.
If you can get over its imprecise controls, then there’s an enjoyable adventure to be had at the heart of Imp of the Sun. Its world is enchanting, and its puzzles and combat pose a worthwhile, enjoyable challenge. It really is such a shame that Nin simply isn’t enjoyable to move around.
Imp of the Sun is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch and PC.