Before we head into the weekend, let’s look at three new releases that may not be high profile AAA launches but are certainly deserving of your attention. Here are Imp of the Sun, Andro Dunos 2 and Devastator.
Imp of the Sun review (PS4)
Imp of the Sun was developed by Sunwolf Entertainment, which (we think) makes this the first ever review we’ve done of a game that was made in Peru. And while that might seem trivial on paper, it’s something that also translates to the world of Imp of the Sun, which in its hand-drawn art style was heavily influenced by the great civilizations that once lived in and around the country – which ultimately is a large part of this game’s identity. Which is certainly more interesting than “here’s an indie metroidvania”.
Having said that, the game’s “non-linear action platforming” is exactly that – a metroidvania title. But where many of those turn out rather generic, Imp of the Sun’s thematic approach makes it stand out from a crowded genre. Narratively, you’re Nin, an Imp who represents a final fragment of a dying sun, out on a quest to restore the sun before an everlasting darkness covers the entire world.
As a creature born from the sun, it’s no surprise that Nin possesses the power to control light and fire, which certainly comes in handy during combat. And combat certainly is a substantial part of Imp of the Sun, where despite the platformer nature of the gameplay you often get locked into battles that feel arena-like – forcing you to take down all the enemies rather than letting you pass them by. And that’s no punishment, as the combat itself feels fluid and fun without every feeling overwhelming – even when more abilities get added over the course of the game’s story campaign.
Much of the game feels, like the combat, entirely “solid” – there are few standout elements and few areas in which the game falters. But where the individual parts might feel generic, with decent platforming due to good level design and fun combat with plenty to find and unlock, it’s the setting where Imp of the Sun shines most. The Peruvian artwork and animation are beautiful and charming at the same time – and this translates to the boss fights, which also have unique designs. This may be somewhat of a generic-but-solid action platformer, but its audiovisual theme is why you should definitely give it a look.
Andro Dunos 2 review (PS4)
Older gamers will no doubt remember SNK’s Neo Geo system – the birthplace of classics like Samurai Shodown, The King of Fighters and Metal Slug. Its expensive home entertainment console never really took off, but new games came out for the system for almost 15 years – impressive when compared to how quickly systems are usually replaced. While known for its fighting and run and gun games, the Neo Geo also had a few shooters – though most were overshadowed by the likes of Gradius.
Viewpoint was arguably the most memorable of the Neo Geo shooters with its isometric perspective, but Neo Geo fans probably also remember Visco’s Andro Dunos, originally released back in 1992 – and PixeHeart has now surprised us with a brand new sequel to the game, realized in the same (now retro) visual style as the original game, albeit with a few small modern improvements to both the graphics and the gameplay.
One nice little gameplay tweak that you don’t see in other shooters is the use of a secondary fire mode called hyper shot. In addition to your regular firing mode, which you can target in four different directions, you can activate an extra powerful temporary boost to your attacks – but at the expense of your primary weapon’s power. While other shooters let you deploy superweapons when you’re in a pickle, you need to be careful here, which is a nice tactical element.
Andro Dunos 2 stays true to the visual style of the Neo Geo era, with technology that was introduced in the early 1990s, but manages to add a few tricks to make it seem like a title that launched just a few years after the 1992 original. Backgrounds are more animated, for instance, giving the game more of a sense of depth. There’s also a good amount of diversity to the different color schemes and visual styles in between levels, which is also an improvement over many of the games from that era – which tended to look a little ‘samey’.
Seasoned fans of shooters will find Andro Dunos 2 to be a tad too easy in places though, so we’re hoping that they’ll tweak the balance post-launch or perhaps introduce additional difficulty levels. Perhaps even a new game+ mode that delivers this, as the game is fairly low on game modes at launch, only giving you a boss rush mode. The inclusion of unlockable stages is nice, but there currently is limited replay value to the game. It’s a fun and well-designed shooter though, and fans of the arcade shooters we were playing three decades ago shouldn’t pass this up.
Devastator review (PS5)
When booting up Devastator, it’s hard not to go back to games like Geometry Wars in your head – and that’s not a bad thing. Devastator originally launched a mobile title from Radiangames a few years ago, but has now launched on PC and consoles through 2Awesome Studio – giving this twin stick shooter a more natural home on a platform where you can actually use two joysticks to control it.
Devastator doesn’t stray far from the classic arcade twin stick shooter formula pioneered in the 1980s, but delivers it with neon-infused visuals that remind us of more modern adaptations in the genre. And without a new Geometry Wars in sight, it’s great to see a game like this pop off the screen at a 4K resolution at 120 frames per second with HDR support on a PlayStation 5. The neon wireframe/vector-like graphics aren’t the most next gen out there, but it’s silky smooth, bright and colorful. Combined with a pumping soundtrack, it’s exactly what you want and expect from the genre in 2022.
Thematically, you’re tasked with eradicating viruses, who will quickly multiply and grow if you don’t take them out quick enough. This means that aggressive and fast-moving play isn’t just rewarded, it’s required – camping out in a corner means you’ll quickly face overwhelming odds. Three different gameplay modes are offered, but ultimately feel like variations on the same theme rather than something remarkably different. We found Quadrants to be the most interesting mode, as it gives you a 5 minute session where grid layouts change constantly, keeping you on your toes. The other two modes, Sectors and Cycles, are wave-based, but feature many of the same mechanics and visually look very similar as well.
As a retro-modern twin stick shooter, Devastator may not revolutionize the genre, but it’s a very polished example and fans of the genre should definitely pick it up. We would have appreciated more diversity in game modes, but for the asking price you can’t possibly go wrong here.