Take on the role of Yi in their arduous journey to take revenge on the Nine Sols, a mysterious group of beings that have built a whole world around their own preservation.
Did you play Sekiro? Well, whether you have or haven’t it’s become a go-to reference for when games use a fusion of careful dodging and deflection-based combat. The kind of rapid, frame-by-frame action that was — until a couple of console generations back — present only in fighting games. Nine Sols is the latest game to coin that reference, specifically describing itself as a “lore rich, hand-drawn 2D action-platformer featuring Sekiro-inspired deflection focused combat.” I’ve been playing it, and I’ve got to agree with their choice of words.
Nine Sols begins with Yi, an anthropomorphic cat, tumbling from a cliff edge. They were forced to drop to their death by another cat-like being (presumably one of the titular villains), however, was gathered up from the ground by strange tentacles that seemed to reassemble the plucky protagonist, spitting them out into the arms of a young human child many years later. The child is in line to be a sacrifice to the gods, but Yi knows better and uses the ceremony as a chance to launch their attack on the Nine Sols.
To skip ahead like that, and to just focus on the combat, is to do Nine Sols a disservice though. Its world is beautiful and enigmatic, a Taopunk creation of Red Candle Games that fuses the architecture and spacious design of Taoist structures with a bold stark vision of a future gone wrong. The further that you journey into its world the more futuristic or alien it becomes, but there’s always that bead of lofty arches, stilts or interlocking shapes following you.
It’s quite a rich world too, you have an inventory that collects together notes and pieces of lore that you gather as you explore the world, and there’s a branching skill tree in there too which either increases your hardiness or adapts your skills to work for you better. The latter is important too, because the deflection-based mechanics are only a part of the way you can fight, and every aspect plays into placement and movement. That’s because you have a grapple and a bow, as well as a handy dodge move which, when combined with your wall-running, dodging, dashing and jumping means you can clear a floorless room with surprising efficiency.
There’s clearly a lot of depth to Yi’s journey that I’ve yet to see, having only played the first few hours of Nine Sols. However, I was drawn in by the story and beautiful artwork, and held by the tense combat. I’m eager to see more.
Nine Sols is set to release for Windows and Mac in Q4 of this year.