The Taiwanese studio Red Candle Games have put up a crowdfunding page for their latest project Nine Sols, and it looks promising. It’s an action platformer with gorgeous hand-drawn animation work, and as Red Candle put it, it’s “a journey of Asian fantasy inspired by Sekiro, Hollow Knight and Katana Zero.” That’s me sold. And clearly a lot of other people agree too, because Nine Sols broke its goal of three million Taiwanese dollars (that’s roughly £80,000) within 24 hours.
It looks to be quite the departure from the studio’s previous two games, Detention and Devotion, both of which were firmly psychological horror games. With Nine Sols, though, Red Candle Games are calling it “Taopunk” – “we had a clear goal of combining Taoism with cyberpunk, melding sci-fi elements with Eastern mythology.” Red Candle have also put out a trailer with a bit of gameplay to promote Nine Sols’ crowdfunding campaign. It’s got a banging electronic soundtrack, too. You can check that out below.
You play as Yi in Nine Sols, a long-forgotten hero from the past, who’s been woken from their slumber by a human child. It’s not clear why yet, but Yi’s on a quest to get revenge. You'll have to learn Nine Sols' unique combat system of deflection and close-range encounters to make it to the end. I'm guessing that's where Sekiro influence comes in, although there are also expected platforming mainstays, like a dash and a double jump. The FAQ on Nine Sols’ crowdfunding page says it’s purely single-player, aiming for 10-15 hours of playtime, with a planned release somewhere between April to June 2023.
Red Candle says their reason behind crowdfunding is to get feedback directly from the people buying and playing their games. “Nine Sols is far larger in scale than anything Red Candle Games has produced in the past. It is therefore crucial that we find out what the market thinks of it during the development phase.” There’s a couple of interesting stretch goals for the campaign as well, like in-game cutscenes and hidden bosses.
Red Candle Games have had a troubled history getting their games out into the world in recent years. In 2019, Steam scrubbed Devotion from the store after some Chinese players became upset by some of its art assets comparing Chinese president Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh, causing its publisher Indievent to lose their business license. GOG then promised to release it a year later in 2020, before changing their minds just a few hours later. Finally, last year, Red Candle Games took matters into their own hands, announcing they were going to sell the game themselves on their own online store. As such, crowdfunding Nine Sols definitely seems like the way to go.