Meet Josie. She’s training to be the world’s next great superhero — Sunblaze. Her father, a retired hero who protected the world, built a training simulator to prepare her for the dangers ahead. When a session starts to go wrong, Josie will need to quickly adapt in order to survive.

Sunblaze is an upcoming 2D puzzle-platformer inspired by games like Celeste or Super Meat Boy in that players will double-jump and dash around spike pits, deadly crushing blocks, and enemy drones in order to get to the goal of each level. Between some sections, Josie and her Dad have small conversations that show their personalities. Josie (as Sunblaze) is excited and eager to get into hero-ing, but her father wants to keep her grounded to make sure that she’s prepared for the life. On the other hand, he encourages her by dabbing and telling her to “SLAY, QUEEN!”, which Sunblaze calls out as trying too hard to be cool. 

Sunblaze introduces puzzle elements slowly so players can learn how the simulator works. Jumping on a block could cause it to fall, and when it lands, it will break any type of glass that’s around it. Players can slide down walls and hold onto ledges to recharge their double-jump and can dash to make it over larger gaps. Moving in front of some platforms causes them to rocket across the room tin an attempt and crush the player.

Once players have figured out a puzzle, they have to execute the movement to be able to complete it, and the game demands perfection, otherwise Sunblaze may find herself falling to her death. Thankfully, the game is quick to respawn players, so there’s not a lot of downtime between deaths (of which I had many.)

While I generally enjoyed Sunblaze, my biggest problem with it is that the movement tools players have don’t feel tight enough to justify the precision some puzzles require. Each ability players have (double-jumping, dashing, ledge grabbing, etc) all need to work the same way every single time, and they just dosn’t. For example, the dash didn’t always cover the same distance each time I used it, so I would fall just short of a gap once, and then make it easily the next. Grabbing onto pipes or ledges also felt inconsistent — sometimes Sunblaze would cling, and sometimes she wouldn’t.  

Complaints aside, Sunblaze gets off to a promising start. It’s quick, action-packed, and offers a superhero-in-training tale that’s equal parts heartwarming and cheesy. Those who like challenging platformers should keep an eye out for Sunblaze, currently set to release June 2021 for Steam.

Eugene Sax
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