Originality is overrated. So is perfection. There’s something to be said for the scrappy B-tier games that, let’s face it, make up the majority of most systems’ libraries. A lot of them simply don’t get a second look because they appear, you know, a bit cheap. And, when we first booted up Imp Of The Sun, we had the same sort of feeling. The game doesn’t look particularly polished. You go into a dismissive sort of state; after all, there are a lot of games out there, aren’t there? Who has time for the 6 and 7-out-of-10s of the world?
Here’s an interesting thing, though; seven is actually a pretty high number, when you’ve only got ten to play with. Imp Of The Sun is the archetypal seven — it looks fine. It feels fine. It’s been compared to the Ori games, but we found it more reminiscent of Drinkbox’s tremendous Guacamelee! series in the way that it likes to lock you in combat arenas and not let you leave until every last enemy has been juggled into submission.
Combat is limited in scope but feels, yes, fine. It’s perfectly acceptable without ever excelling. Exploration is entirely acceptable, with good level design that prioritises challenging platforming action over typically mid-tier Metroidvania meandering. It has a similar density and style of play to Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, though without becoming as overbearing as that game.
The first game from Peruvian developers Sunwolf Entertainment, Imp Of The Sun takes inspiration from Inca culture — and there’s a resemblance at times to the Mesoamerican imagery in Drinkbox’s series, all the way down to the fonts. This isn’t a criticism, though, because Guacamelee! looks awesome and, at times, so does Imp Of The Sun. Specifically, the boss fights, which are few but thoroughly enjoyable, well-designed and — arguably most importantly — extremely cool-looking.
We think it’s a shame that Imp of the Sun will most likely fall through the cracks of the ten trillion games that come out on Switch every single day, because it doesn’t deserve to. “Fine” does not mean “bad” and quite frankly, this writer (hello!) preferred Imp Of The Sun to the likes of Ori and the Blind Forest. It’s never going to impress anyone with its originality but is that really important? Yes, it’s a bit of a patchwork effort, stapling together bits of various different games in its genre, but it’s far from throwing metaphorical you-know-what at a wall and seeing what sticks. Also, the art and animation here — while occasionally a touch amateurish — deserve props for their occasional flair and general smoothness.
Imp Of The Sun stands alongside the likes of Smelter, MindSeize and Cobra Kai as a flawed game that nonetheless has an enormous amount to offer and is likely to be criminally ignored. If you’re after something off the beaten track, we urge you to consider the sixes and sevens of this world and give them a chance. We don’t think Imp Of The Sun will be anyone’s favourite game, but we do think that anyone who picks it up will remember it later on and go “oh yeah, Imp Of The Sun. That was a good time!”
Now watch it become the best-selling Switch game in history simply to prove us wrong.