Image courtesy of Sunwolf Entertainment

Imp of the Sun embraces Peruvian culture and beautiful 2D art in Unreal Engine

Mat Paget and Daniel Kayser
Jose Varon serves as CEO at Sunwolf Entertainment. With a background in music, he's worked as a composer on both films and video games. Sunwolf represents the union of opposites, with a vision to give artists, programmers, and out-of-the-box thinkers a space where they can grow and improve their skills while working on significant projects.
Sunwolf Entertainment has shown with its latest title that Unreal Engine is not only a tool for 3D games but also perfectly suited for beautiful 2D art and platforming. Imp of the Sun is a fast-paced action platformer that puts you in the role of Nin, an imp that was born from the Sun's final spark. And thus, destiny decreed Nin's mission to restore the sun's power by exploring the mountains and jungles and vanquishing their powerful enemies.

Sunwolf Entertainment is based in Peru, so Imp of the Sun takes a lot of inspiration from the developer's culture and roots. We spoke to Sunwolf CEO Jose Varon about how this permeated Imp of the Sun's development, why they chose Unreal Engine for a 2D game, and the current state of Latin America's game development scene.

Imp of the Sun has a very interesting protagonist and premise. What can you tell us about the game’s story?

The world has been in a never-ending twilight since the eclipse began many centuries ago. The lands are now filled with dangerous creatures, and the remains of civilization grow smaller every day. The sun sends a small imp to these cursed lands with the task of putting an end to this eclipse before the last remains of life are wiped out. To end the eclipse, the imp must defeat the four keepers that hold the sun’s power. They are hiding in the desert, the mountains, the jungle, and the underworld. Despite the insurmountable task, the imp will become more powerful as the journey goes, but the challenge will rise to meet him.

How were the game’s narrative, characters, and overall presentation shaped by the influence of Peruvian culture?

We used Peruvian elements and culture as starting points. For instance, the sun and moon were important deities in many Incan and pre-Incan cultures. The name of the main character, Nin, comes from the Quechua word “Nina,” which means fire.

Why is sharing Peruvian culture with the world through this project such an important goal for the team?

The whole country has a lot to offer culturally. When people think of Peru, the first thing that comes to mind is Machu Picchu, but there were many super interesting pre-Incan cultures in the deserts, jungles, and mountain areas that were very unique and worth exploring. This is more than just a video game to us; it is also a creative way to share some of our culture and history to a new and wider audience.
Image courtesy of Sunwolf Entertainment
The game is described as a fast-paced action platformer. What made its 2D style a good fit for the project?

It’s our first game as a team! And for many in the team, it’s the first game they have worked on. It was really a technical decision: We wanted to start with a genre we knew and understood the mechanics of. Then we keep adding complexity to the genre as we learn.

What types of games influenced Imp of the Sun in terms of gameplay?

Games which have a simple beauty and freedom to them. Also, ones which really effectively use music to enhance the game experience. Music is a major part of our game, and we took inspiration from games like Dark Souls, Breath of The Wild, and Shadow of the Colossus

What are some of the action-platformer elements that you feel make Imp of the Sun unique?

The Inner Fire mechanic and everything related to it. We feel it adds an edge to the game. Inner Fire is Nin’s power, which is consumed to use certain abilities. It regenerates by being close to fire sources, and that means the darker it gets, the less you regenerate and the more you have to depend on torches. Also, as the eclipse progresses, enemies get stronger, and Nin regenerates less and less.

Can you tell us more about the game’s power-up and ability systems?

Nin starts with a single-hit attack, which is also part of the learning curve. As you progress, you unlock consecutive attacks and combo specials, which make combat much more fun. New abilities that you can unlock are specific to each area of the world.
Image courtesy of Sunwolf Entertainment
Imp of the Sun has gorgeous, hand-crafted environments. Was this something you felt was fundamental to the project from the beginning?

Absolutely. Beautiful art really inspires us, and we want to keep raising the bar for ourselves as we make more games.

The game’s music sets a distinct tone and reinforces the influences you previously discussed. Can you tell us more about the music creation process and some of the unique instruments used in its creation?

The score has nine different themes. Five that center around the characters and story and four that are the keepers’ themes. The main theme is all about opposites—little Nin against the demigods he has to face. Another example would be the eclipse motif, which is two overlapping chords (known in composition as a polychord). Concept-wise, in each area we have a keeper motif, which develops through the different stages of the area and ends on an epic boss fight version of the keepers' theme. We also recorded a variety of live instruments and choirs in three different languages (Quechua, Aimara, and Ashaninka) and had the unique opportunity to record historical instruments in a museum, some of which date back to 4,000 B.C. That was very special.

What is the game-development scene like in Latin America?

There is a lot of talent and a lot of stories to be told, but we don’t have the infrastructure to support it effectively yet. Businesses are starting to see the potential in the games industry, so I would say we are still in our earlier stages. I hope our game will be a glimpse of what we have to offer.
Image courtesy of Sunwolf Entertainment
Why was Unreal Engine a good fit for this project?

A couple of reasons. First of all, Blueprints let our lead game designer sketch and work quite a bit without being a programmer. Second and most important, we’re definitely moving to 3D soon, and I don’t think there’s commercial software at the level we are looking for.

Are there any Unreal Engine tools or features that you and the team found particularly useful?

Blueprints were immensely useful for us. I would recommend the system to any new dev team. 

Sunwolf Entertainment is receiving an Epic MegaGrant. How does this help and otherwise inspire the team?

A lot. Even with the best possible management, things don’t always go the way you expect, and having the MegaGrant was a huge help at a moment when we really needed it. 

Thanks for your time! Where and when will Imp of the Sun be available?

We’ve signed a publishing deal with Sold Out and are working on a fantastic launch campaign for Q1 2022. Imp of the Sun will be available on the Epic Games Store and Steam. You can follow our journey on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Discord, or check out our website

Thanks for everything!

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