Announced at the Annapurna Interactive showcase, the skating, monster-killing, vibey and vibrant Solar Ash will be released on October 26th. It's the next game from Hyper Light Drifter developers Heart Machine, sharing Hyper Light's cool and colourful 80s aesthetic, but flipping from 2D to 3D and putting a real emphasis on fluid movement throughout a huge world.
I had a chance to chat with the devs about Solar Ash, and they told me a bit about why they decided to go for something so different, and about the challenges of making such a speedy character.
"We like to say it's like a mix of Mario Galaxy, meets Shadow Of The Colossus, meets Jet Set Radio. It's a very different genre to Hyper Light Drifter," game director Chelsea Hash tells me. "Ultimately, we wanted this to feel like a fully different game, where the speed and movement controls are a large part of the experience."
In Solar Ash, you play as this skater zooming around an open world and taking on giant bosses. It was a challenge for Heart Machine, who went from a 2D combat-focused game to a 3D movement-focused game, and they tell me they put a lot of tech and energy into making sure it all worked well.
"Overall, we had to make enough space to contain our massive bosses and the context to build up to those moments. For every boss we have, we also have an area that supports that fight," Hash says. "I can't say exactly how many bosses we have, but there's definitely more to the game than just the boss fights."
While the game will feel similar to Hyper Light stylistically, it'll be relatively dissimilar when it comes to gameplay. Creative director Alx Preston tells me the skillset you get from Hyper Light probably won't transfer to Solar Ash. So, why go for something so different?
"Don't you ever get tired of doing the same thing for multiple years?" Preston asks. "With Hyper Light, I was working on that game for almost five years, then started working on Solar Ash about a year before we shipped it. I was already thinking about what to do differently, because I got a little bit tired of doing the same things over and over. Solar Ash was a chance to throw new challenges at myself and the team."
Can't argue with that. I expect Solar Ash will throw plenty of new challenges to players too, and we'll all be able to experience those when it releases on October 26th. You can find it on the Epic Games Store, and it'll also be available on PS4 and PS5.