Red Candle Games, the developer behind critically acclaimed horror outings Detention and Devotion, has – following a bit of an animated tease earlier this year – formally announced its latest title, an action-platformer loosely inspired by From Software’s superb Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice that’s currently going by the name of Nine Sols.
Details are extremely limited right now, but Red Candle describes Nine Sols (a working title at present) as a “lore rich hand-drawn 2D platformer with Sekiro-inspired deflection-focused combat”. The developer has also shared a wonderfully evocative bit of promo art that – while a significant aesthetic departure from its previous games – does suggest, with its mangled limbs and pools of blood, that we’re not exactly in family friendly territory here.
“Embark on a journey of Asian fantasy, explore the land once home to an ancient alien race and follow a vengeful hero’s quest to slay nine Sols, rulers of a forsaken realm,” Red Candle teases in its announcement on Twitter.
Nine Sols will be Red Candle Games’ third title, following on from 2017’s acclaimed Detention – a horror-tinged exploration of 1960s Taiwan under martial law that went on to inspire a Netflix animated series – and its 2019 follow-up, Devotion. The latter, an impressive first-person psychological horror unfolding across seven years in a cramped apartment in 1980s Taiwan, drew significant praise on its release but proved controversial.
Following its release, Devotion was found to contain an unflattering reference to China’s president, Xi Jinping, sparking an outcry among Chinese players. This lead to the withdrawal of its Chinese distributors, the closure of the developer’s account on Weibo – one of China’s largest social media platforms – and the removal of the game from Steam in China.
Although Red Candle apologised at length, calling the reference a placeholder asset that was accidentally transferred to the final release, the backlash continued and the developer ultimately pulled the game from Steam in all territories and it’s never returned.
However, those eager to explore Devotion’s very personal brand of horror – which found its way to Harvard University last year alongside Detention, as part of the institute’s preservation efforts – do now have the option to do so via Red Candle’s own digital store, where the game finally returned to sale as a DRM-free edition in March this year.
As for Nine Sols, there’s no hint of a release date for the game yet, but given the high bar set by Red Candle’s previous outings, I am most certainly looking forward to learning more. And if you’re interested in a deeper delve into Devotion, do check out Edwin Evans-Thirlwell’s wonderful Making Of feature from earlier this year.