Indie Platformer Review

Sunblaze – Review | Rage-Inducing Fun

Sunblaze is a very difficult Celeste-inspired 2D platformer, developed by Games from Earth and published by Bonus Stage Publishing.

Frickin’ Hard

When I say Sunblaze is hard, I mean it. If you’re not a very patient and reasonable person, you might want to rent a mental asylum room in order to play this game. The soft cushioned walls will prevent your controller/keyboard from meeting a terrible demise on cold, hard concrete. 

Sunblaze could be classified as a “rage game”, meaning instead of shooting baddies, your main objective is to not shoot yourself in the head after dying in the same room for the 50th time. Does anyone remember that old Hitler rage video? Depending on who you are, your time spent with Sunblaze might or might not have you pulling off a good impersonation of it: “ZIS BULLZHIT! SCHEIßE DU STUPID VIDEOSPIEL!!! I SWEAR TO ZE GOD I WILL KILL ZOMEBODY IF I DON’T BEAT THIS FICKEN LEVEL- oh, I did it!

Sunblaze - Climbing

Feeling of Success

Keep playing Sunblaze and a few levels in unlocks the option to evolve from Hitler rage into Mussolini-level rage. It’s fun because you don’t know what other fascist dictator you’ll become next, keeping the experience fresh and full of surprises!

It’s a hard game that only gets harder as you progress and, trust me, it doesn’t make an effort to give you an easy time. But as it gets harder, your triumphs feel better. Finally beating that awful level that took you so long feels great and, overall, surpassing the challenges Sunblaze throws at you really makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. However, the joy of overcoming these difficulties alone isn’t enough to create a fun experience and keep the players engaged. The game needs to be good in many other areas. And Sunblaze absolutely is.

Sunblaze - TNT Level

Perfectly Precise

The moment-to-moment interaction in this game is amazing. The movement (that consists of a horizontal dash, a jump, a double-jump, and a standard left or right run) is responsive, smooth, and precise. Despite being simple, it effectively manages to provide immense depth to the gameplay through level design. Just moving the character around is extremely satisfying. That’s undoubtedly one of the most important things to get right in a game like this. 

Furthermore, Sunblaze tries its best not to feel unfair. It does this with a few special cases added to the movement to make the game feel less punishing. Some examples are the way you can jump even if you’re a few frames too late or how you can save yourself from a fatal death on spikes if you time your jump just right when landing on top of them (elegantly indicated by a quick screen flash and a “pop” sound, blatantly assaulting your senses with joyous stimulation), along with many other details that go by unnoticed but definitely make a huge difference on how responsive the controls feel. At no point did I feel like I’d lost control of my character, thanks to these little “special cases” in the code that forgive some of the players’ mistakes. 


What also helps in making the game feel good are some small, short-lived, but impactful effects that can emphasize some specific actions, such as screen shakes when dashing. Developer Rami Ismail put it best in his “3 Things I Learned While Making Nuclear Throne” talk when he said that “good design is invisible” – a quote that had already existed, but is here brilliantly associated with these unnoticeable ways games change the experience drastically.

The treats don’t end there, however. This game is packed to the brim with beautiful visuals. Despite the detailed pixel art, smooth animations, and complex environments full of life, it doesn’t generate visual clutter. Style varies with each level, giving them a distinct look and personality.

Sunblaze has Thwomps

Level Design

Sunblaze has some brilliant levels. All of them manage to explore different moves and obstacles to create incredibly interesting courses. These test not only your reflexes and coordination but also your thinking. While some levels are very clear from the start, others force you to re-evaluate your moves and think before acting.

Levels also have their own particular set of new mechanics and quirks that can put a spin on the core gameplay loop and allow for some stellar combinations. That said, I do wish some of these aspects carried over from one level to another and didn’t remain contained to each section.

Sunblaze - Spikey Vines

Pacing, Easy Mode, and Accessibility

The game is very well-paced. In Sunblaze, tough challenges are almost always followed by simpler, slightly easier sections to not stress the player out. It’s still always increasing in difficulty overall of course.

If however, you are having a really tough time, Sunblaze offers accessibility options that can be turned on and off in order to provide a fair experience for players of all different skill levels. Older people, for example, simply don’t have the same motor skills as a young person and small children may not be as familiar with games but still want to play this title. The accessibility options can change some of the core mechanics, such as increasing jump height, to outright making you invincible, with no punishment whatsoever. There’s also a zen mode with reduced difficulty and fewer levels for those who would rather not “cheat”, but still want to have an easier time.

For those, instead, looking for a challenge… Sunblaze not only presents you with optional collectibles that make levels much harder in order to obtain them, but gives you good reason to. Collecting them unlocks what is essentially an entire second campaign as a bonus hard mode. Once you’ve collected all of the weird glowing boxes, they’ll allow you to access this.


The gameplay is accompanied by a stellar OST that reflects the sort of futuristic, bright, and cheerful aesthetic of this game, while still maintaining particularities for each of the sections used. It’s pretty good.

Cat Saying Meow

Could be better…

The story is uh…. I mean, it’s good enough, anyway. There isn’t anything really amazing or mind-blowing. The characters are pretty generic, the setting is okay, nothing really stands out much. It’s there and it fulfills its purpose to contextualize gameplay. The ending is kinda funny though.

The main thing I believe is missing from this game is workshop support. It has tons of challenge and replayability, but adding a level editor and letting players share their creations with each other would promote an active community. I could really see this increasing the game’s popularity and lifespan. This could give even more reason for players to come back to it once in a while. Yes, it’s a gigantic amount of work, but I feel that resources spent on a good, intuitive, and powerful level creation tool would definitely pay off.

Sunblaze - Some Kind of Story


All in all, Sunblaze is a fun, challenging experience. While providing exciting and satisfying gameplay, it isn’t ashamed of allowing players to tune their experience. Accompanied by a good soundtrack and beautiful visuals, this game is a solid experience. It’s definitely worth your attention if you’re a fan of hard platformers and stands out as a great example of the genre.


Platforms: Steam (PC)
Purchase: Humble (Steam/PC)

If you would like to see more platformers, you may be interested in our review of Spelunky 2.

Many thanks go to Bonus Stage Publishing for a PC review code for this title.

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