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People waiting for Silksong should try the demo for Worldless, which launches next month

A metroidvania of similar promise

A Worldless screenshot showing a fight with a huge angelic enemy made up of abstract white shapes.
Image credit: Coatsink

OK, so there's plenty in Worldless that won't remind you of Silksong or its predecessor, Hollow Knight. Rather than a medieval bug exploring a labyrinth of bioluminescent rot and lore, you're a vaguely humanoid cloud of shards and points, roaming an abstract landscape of soft curves and shafts of light. You're Rayman but fancy, basically, and the world is no world but an uncreated expanse of elemental forces, though you'll find you can run and jump on it much as you can the ledges of Hallownest. The combat is a different beast, too. Rather than Souls-inflected 2D hack-and-slash, it's turn-based battling with a twist - each turn gives you a countdown in which to perform real-time combos, mixing melee and magical attacks.

So why does Worldless make me think of Team Cherry's work? Partly it's the underlying touch of metroidvania, a word the press materials seem oddly hesitant to use. The map extends in all directions and you'll need to acquire new abilities to reach certain areas. Partly, it's the shared enchanted grotto atmosphere, with all sorts of tiny animate details festering for attention as you explore. And partly, it's the dash move you unlock early on, and the process of chaining it with a platform-conjuring ability to unlock routes while traversing them, which puts me strongly in mind of those horizontal gauntlet runs from the Silksong trailer. All told, if you're beginning to crisp up for lack of Hollow Knight news, you might want to give the demo a whirl ahead of Worldless's release on (drum roll) 21st November 2023.

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You should probably give it a whirl even if you couldn't care a bean for Hollow Knight. As Katharine reported in July, there's the makings of something excellent here. The combat, for example, is nicely layered. Fights are sparse and occur at preset points in the world(less), where clumps of angry shapes and colours materialise without warning. Victory is a balance of capitalising on weaknesses to certain attack types or elements while blocking with the correct button - pull off a precision parry, and your shield will absorb the hit without losing integrity. But it's not enough just to defeat your adversary: to earn ability points, you'll want to absorb them by filling up a combo bar. Fortunately, enemies can be summoned and re-fought once beaten. As a whole, it feels like a vastly expanded homage to the Trigon battles from Sword & Sworcery.

I also really like the aesthetic, and especially the HUD. The in-game map and unlock trees are represented as dots and lines flowing out of your character's head - an approach to diegetic UI design I am going to call "avant garde Xmas tree" until developers Noname Studios tell me not to. The only thing I'm not so keen on is the writing from the marketing materials, which asks you to "uncover unimaginable possibilities" and go in "pursuit of transcendence" - all very wind-your-neck-in-please. Here's hoping none of that features in the game itself. Anyway, find the Steam page over here.

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