You know cyberpunk. Now let Nine Sols introduce you to ‘Taopunk’

Nines Sols main character, Yi
Red Candle Games

A studio recognized for creating horror video games pivoting to a brand new style isn’t unprecedented. After all, Tango Gameworks shifted from creating video games resembling The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo to the goofy and colourful Hi-Fi Rush. The Taiwan-based studio Red Candle Games adopted the same trajectory on the best way to its latest recreation, Nine Sols.

Red Candle Games was based in 2015 and debuted with the side-scrolling horror recreation Detention in 2017. In 2019, the studio launched Devotion, a psychological horror recreation that obtained fairly a little bit of attention after it was banned from digital PC storefronts like GOG and Steam for holding an easter egg referencing Xi Jinping, common secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.

Now, 5 years after that incident, Red Candle Games is on the brink of launch Nine Sols. It was first introduced in March 2022 and blew past its fundraising goal of three million Taiwanese {dollars} (roughly $93,000) inside the first 24 hours. As an Asian fantasy action platformer, Nine Sols couldn’t be any additional in tone from the horror-tinged Detention and Devotion. To create one thing recent, the studio would usher in tons of inspiration and undertake a singular aesthetic: Taopunk.

Myth turns into sci-fi

Producer Vincent Yang tells Digital Trends that there have been a number of explanation why Red Candle Games wished to create one thing completely different. The first was that after creating two consecutive horror titles, the event group felt burnt out from growing related experiences. The second was that Nine Sols gave Red Candle Games the liberty to experiment with completely different subjects, genres, and gameplay type. The studio additionally believed that it could assist rejuvenate creativity.

“We wanted to leverage this versatility and explore new possibilities,” Yang explains. “We aimed to reach the Western market with Nine Sols, designing it to break language barriers through intuitive and enjoyable game mechanics. By doing so, we hope to find greater success in overseas markets.”

Nine Sols follows a hero named Yi, who goals to defeat and overthrow the 9 Sols, who’re tyrannical rulers within the New Kunlun realm. During the prototyping stage, the group mentioned numerous concepts for the sport’s story. An idea stood out to them: the story of Chinese archer Hou Yi.

Nine Sols dialogue
Red Candle Games

In Chinese mythology, there have been initially 10 suns that might cross the sky, separately. One day, all 10 suns got here out on the similar time and scorched the earth. Hou Yi was tasked to rein them in, however when the suns refused to go away peacefully, Hou Yi was pressured to take extra drastic measures, together with taking pictures them down together with his arrows.

“We wondered, what if we were to use Hou Yi’s story and turn it into science fiction?” Yang says. “As we discussed this idea further in our meetings, it gradually expanded into a complete story and then into a feasible game direction.” The thought of constructing the completely different suns as Soulslike bosses appears like a match made in heaven.

Pioneering Taopunk

The gameplay in Nine Sols is closely impressed by particular video games resembling Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The imaginative and prescient was to recreate the identical deflection-focused fight expertise in a 2D platformer, together with the exploration and atmospheric worldbuilding present in video games like Hollow Knight. Additionally, the sport’s intense motion sequences have been impressed by Katana Zero. While Nine Sols borrows closely from its contemporaries, an enormous manner it stands out is with its aesthetic. The recreation adopts a singular “Taopunk” aesthetic, combining futuristic cyberpunk parts with Eastern fantasy and mythology.

The artwork group drew inspiration from conventional Chinese artwork, Taoist symbolism, and cyberpunk visuals to craft a particular type. The hand-drawn 2D artwork additionally allowed for a excessive degree of element and persona, making New Kunlun really feel wealthy and immersive.

Many within the studio grew up watching quite a lot of nice Japanese animations and lots of Japanese video games from the Eighties and ’90s. They have been amazed by how nicely these artists blended conventional Japanese parts with futuristic settings. Works like Ghost within the Shell, Akira, and Shin Megami Tensei contained traces of Japanese tradition and faith, and the previous two significantly influenced the cyberpunk parts in Nine Sols. This impressed Red Candle Games to discover the same fusion.

“During early development, we started combining Taoism and cyberpunk elements,” Yang says. “As the setting and aesthetic began to take shape, we realized that these two seemingly contrasting elements could coexist harmoniously, creating a unique and a compelling world.”

Nine Sols gameplay
Red Candle Games

The inspirations don’t finish there. Blade Runner was one other affect for its dystopian and cyberpunk aesthetic, as was Princess Mononoke for its exploration of the character versus know-how idea. Works resembling Satoshi Kon’s Paprika and Perfect Blue have been checked out for his or her distinctive storytelling methods, as was Neon Genesis Evangelion for its deep philosophical themes and sophisticated character improvement.

Developing Nine Sols was tough, particularly because it was so completely different from the studio’s earlier work. Transitioning from the 2D Detention to the 3D Devotion already offered obstacles. However, it was a problem that Red Candle Games overcame with flying colours. Nine Sols required the studio to sort out new design and technical challenges, however the group’s dedication and resilience helped them throughout the end line as soon as once more.

“This project has been a huge leap for our studio, taking more than four years of hard work and dedication,” says Yang. “We really hope that players will enjoy the game and appreciate the unique blend of elements we’ve brought together. We’re excited to share this journey through the world of Nine Sols with everyone.”

Nine Sols is out there now on PC.

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