Sunblaze (PC Review): Josie’s No Pussy Cat

Josie just wanted to become a superhero like dad, but the training room(!?) thought otherwise. Help Josie escape and evolve her powers in Sunblaze, on PC and Switch now.

Sunblaze tells the tale of an aspiring superhero, Josie. She’s not the type to practice in the mirror with a blanket wrapped around her neck – it’s in her jeans genes. Her old man is a retired superhero and is teaching her everything he knows.

As per any responsible parent, he wants what’s best for her and will only let her graduate when she’s truly ready. To gear her up for her future career path, they have a built-in training room in their home that morphs each time she completes the course.

Unfortunately, someone left 2001: A Space Odyssey on the telly overnight, and not the training room’s AI has evolved and taken over the controls. It aims to destroy Josie, while she has other plans: …to become a superhero! (and escape the endless pain that the room inflicts).

Sunblaze (PC Review)

Sunblaze, by Games From Earth and Bonus Stage Publishing, is a platform puzzler – the puzzle element is ‘how do I get to the goal without dying?’. Cue some ever-evolving rooms (read: stages), and Josie steadily unlocks her potential of getting her own movie, lunchbox and action figure set.

Sunblaze PC Review - Tremors without Bacon
Tremors without Bacon. Source: Screen capture

The design is similar to a lot of the titles we see. We have the gratuitous Super Meat Boy claret engulfing the screen each time she lands on a spike or has something weighty crush her into homemade jam. Then we have the precision timing that was last seen in Sockventure, only Josie isn’t so floaty and manoeuvres around the screen as one would expect of an assumed teenage superhero.

Besides a dashing costume that may or may not disguise her identity, Josie can dart across the screen in a sporadic dash effect. She also has a wall-climbing ability as standard, but it’s vital to grab on to the groove embedded in the walls. 

On the first inspection, these looked like blades would protrude out, so I avoided them. After falling to my death numerous time, I surmised these might be there to assist me with my rock climbing aspirations. They were.

Being A Superhero Is Hard Work

The first couple of stages in Sunblaze, elegantly fused as the room digitally refreshes itself without delay, were easy peasy. They have to be. After a couple of silly mistakes and some explosive clouds of blood, it became apparent how critical timing is.

There isn’t any visible timer pushing you forward, staring down from the top of the screen like a disappointed parent. Instead, it’s the active environments. You’ll have to dash across one side of the screen, trigger a block to fall, dart back to the place you were at before (now sinking), then jump onto the platform you pulled down.

Sunblaze PC Review - Corny
Corny. Source: Screen capture

In addition to tinkering with these Tetris blocks of death, there are optional datacubes to collect. Keep collecting them, and they unlock challenges. Wha..?! It’s already a testing game, but if you eat this sort of game for breakfast, the added challenge might be for you.

On offer at the start is the Zen Mode. Zen Mode is a very flattering way to say ‘for pussies’. The first time I booted up Sunblaze, y’know, inserted the disks and typed Load “”, the option didn’t occur to me. Everything was quaint, in its proper place and far from chaotic.

The Grace Of A Hippo In Tutu

You’d be naive in thinking that would continue for a brutal platformer like this, but this is the type of game that has you barricading the doors, removing all distractions and perfecting your timing to smash each level with finesse. 

There are only six chapters in the game, but there’s more than enough stages within each one

What’s the opposite of finesse? Guileless, inadequate, incompetent… let’s go with cack-handed. My approach was cack-handed.

Best of all, each chapter displays how many times you died. Talk about rubbing it in. If you get stuck, give the Zen Mode a go, and it’ll build your confidence up to play with the S Class heroes.

But Sunblaze isn’t that brutal, it’s pretty fair, and despite the chirpy soundtrack that is best played while sipping some fruit-infused green tea (don’t get me started), it has a wicked, self-knowing sense of humour – especially in the dialogue sequences.

P-P-P-Powers

The way Josie sticks to the walls takes a bit of getting used to as it’s mildly distracting. She’s like a toddler that’s caked in, well, cake, as she sticks to everything. With that in mind, she’s not a Peter Parker-type hero as she’ll eventually slide down the walls.

Sunblaze PC Review - Hellraiser
Hellraiser. Source: Screen capture

Dashing across the screen is the most fulfilling. In later stages, you’ll be darting towards green globules of slime, using them as a launchpad to reach the next area, or unlocking the flame skill that moves cuts diagonally through the screen, smashing up glass walls along the way.

Boss battles in the game all feel pretty intuitive too, and though they’re far from easy, they aren’t hair-pulling to the extent of abdicating from your superhero responsibilities and pick up a game of chess instead. After all, your old man is counting on you.

Sunblaze Review Summary

I really like this one. From the get-go, Sunblaze is a fun, well-presented platformer that’s rewarding for various reasons; the cute graphics, witty exchanges between Josie and the AI, but, more importantly, the gameplay. The default mode and Zen options complement each other well, too.

Pros

  • Tight, responsive controls.
  • Satisfying platform problem-solving.
  • Standard and ‘easy’ difficulties well judged.
  • Nice graphics!
  • On point wit.
  • Optional challenges to make it more interesting.

Cons

  • Music is a taste thing (I found it mildy annoying).
  • One-hit kills can test your patience.