Sunblaze is a platformer game by Games From Earth and published by Bonus Stage Publishing, revolving around the training and journey of an aspiring superhero apprentice! Josie’s superhero dad promises to train her in a surprisingly realistic training simulation and get her fit for superhero duties. But the father and daughter pair quickly realize that something is seriously amiss with the program’s latest update…
Developer: Games From Earth
Released: 3rd June 2021
This game was reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective Showcase.
Simulation? How does that work?
The goal is to finish each of the game’s rooms by going through a series of obstacles to reach the level’s exit chip. This is done through Josie’s unbelievably simple move set: she can only double jump and dash. It’s how you use these abilities with the surrounding environments that make Sunblaze interesting and challenging. You can hang on ledges or metal poles, or slowly slide down walls. Stomping robotic enemies will also replenish your dash and jump.
Sunblaze expects you to not just use Josie’s potential to the fullest, but also learn and utilize some of your environment’s obvious and hidden quirks. For example, you can safely hold on to a ledge with spikes on top then jump and dash over the spikes. These quirks are combined with other elements such as falling platforms, deadly lasers, and bottomless pits in a puzzle-like manner, spanning across hundreds of challenging rooms!
How real is the sim?
With all of this considered, the game is a decent pick for short playthroughs. The levels are no larger than your average widescreen monitor. While the level layouts can range from mildly difficult to brutal, it doesn’t take too long to figure out how to get past the more difficult ones. Even then, the game includes a Zen Mode to experience the story at a shorter and easier pace, and there are plenty of accessibility options making it easy to pick up and play the game. Or you can go the other way and play the Hard Challenges if you manage to collect all the data cubes in any of Sunblaze’s six chapters.
Although Sunblaze has many illustrations of Josie in the menu screens and store pages, the game uses pixel art aesthetics combined with visual effects such as blood splatter for your deaths (you will have plenty of these). The aesthetics do a great job of differentiating between Josie’s comfy house and the strange, cold training sim rooms. The electronic soundtrack is befitting of the game’s technological themes and mood, without being too intrusive or distracting.
With a level design philosophy just like the ones in Celeste and Super Meat Boy, Sunblaze is hard, but thankfully not frustrating. Quite the opposite thanks to lots of features making the game easier, although you are free to make it even harder. It’s also a perfect game if you want to play in short dozes without running out of content too soon!