Game News While waiting for Hollow Knight Silksong, I discovered a new handmade metroidvania
I went to attack the Islets and their animals. And if the title did not allow me to live up to the expectations of Hollow Knight Silksong, it still allowed me to live a fascinating and surprising experience.
I’m not going to lie to you: I’m one of those players who can’t wait for the upcoming arrival of Hollow Knight Silksong. Yes, I am one of those who hope at every new conference a sign of information about this long-awaited title. I’m still young, still waiting for a release date. But no one can help, the developers of Team Cherry have nothing to do with relieving my anxiety. So, like an addict who can’t get his drug, I’m open to any kind of substitute that will allow me to grieve while waiting. So when I came across this little hand-drawn metroidvania made by two brothers, I didn’t hesitate for a second. Especially since all the articles I’ve read compare it to my beloved Hollow Knight, what more could you ask for? So I go to live the strangely exciting adventures of Iko, a clumsy hero in search of glory.
This is an indie review of JV:
There’s Wanted, your new column about weird and fun indie games, and there’s this column. It is dedicated to the narrative games that we want you to discover, in a slightly more personal register, as a post and with some video extracts.
A cartoon look
Let me tell you about a happy time when the five celestial islands came together to form an ecosystem. A thriving and welcoming ecosystem, balanced by this unity. Life was good in the world of Islets at that time. But as you can imagine, that time is over. The five islands regained their independence, throwing the Islet world into chaos. Since that day, many hope to be a hero who can reunite the islands and rid them of their monsters. This is particularly the case of our little Iko, the mouse who is not a hero. He has no big ship, no successes on his board… But the unconfident Iko leaves everything he has to help others. Far from the phlegmatic hero of Hollow Knight, Iko is as charming as she is vulnerable and childish. Come on, we want to help him in his quest, to see him grow, become stronger, defeat more monsters and become the hero he dreams of so much. With simplicity and tenderness, Kyle Thompson’s title took me by the hand so that I could travel for an hour in a wonderful and unique world.
If the hand-crafted side reminded me of the first sight of Hollow Knight, a few minutes on the island of Norstable was enough for me to realize that the Islets are actually very different.. Forget the mysteries and darkness of the first because the second has a more refined and colorful artistic direction, almost childish in some aspects. I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that it was an adaptation of an Adventure Time cartoon. As with the latter, we feel that beneath its simplistic features, Islets has much more to offer. I took a particular satisfaction in reading Mika’s letters between two fights or in crossing paths with this fearsome knight like no other who always hoped to find the courage to be a hero as well. This goodness is not small and gives us to see a more exciting vision of the world and social relations, while trying some darker topics (death, loneliness, etc.) I’m curious to see how far Islets can go from this point of view, although I suspect he won’t go with a Celeste for example. An example that was not chosen at random, because in many ways Islets reminds me of the title of Best Games. Between the great atmosphere, colors and some platforming mechanics, this little metroidvania looks like its little celestial brother. But Islets remained a very weak child compared to his elders.
Isn’t Hollow Knight the one to like
Again, launching the Isles hoping to find a new Hollow Knight is not a good idea. This rarely happens. And with a metroidvania juggernaut like the Team Cherry title, this is the best way to fail. Let’s face it, Islets is a long way from finding a place for itself with its teammates. I personally cringed at the stiffness of the movements, the lack of complexity in the fights or the lack of depth in the animations. Islets are sometimes a bit too simple to realize, but that doesn’t stop me from happily launching this little adventure again. I don’t know if it’s all the goodness we talked about above or the more pleasant handling. I wonder if this is the desire to close our opponent or not to weaken Iko. Or maybe it’s the irresistible need to discover different islands, chase every nook and cranny, fill the bestiary…? Because yes, we are happy to retrace our steps to explore this strange world once the double jump is known. A game that invites exploration, that’s what a good metroidvania is all about. For the Islets, the mission seems to have been a success. To avoid any disappointment, Iko has the right to some clues to know where he needs to go (and not go around, impatient, never finding the next step). A small detail to me, but it means a lot to those who are tearing their hair out looking long for a new path. Generally, I was surprised by these few thoughtful points scattered throughout the game, which made for a unique and well-thought-out experience.
Especially since despite his young age and lack of experience, Petit Islets is changing. Who said metroidvania, said a certain evolution of places to explore. The new ones open up to Iko as she opens up the improvements… but not only that. The islands, interlocking, form new paths, create new possibilities. The explorer in me revels in the idea of discovering this map, which is much more complex than this. And then there is my little ship, which I hope to see grow to take me to richer and more distant lands. It is not sure that in the long run this feature will prove to be fundamentally interesting, but it has the merit of diversifying the gaming experience. So no, Islets is not the only younger brother of Hollow Knight. True, he couldn’t reach his ankles, but he was, in many ways, more than that. The islands may not claim to be perfect, but have the merit of bringing a little new mix, a charming parenthesis and full of goodness. I’m not going to lie to you, by the end of the year I might have forgotten the existence of the Islets. In a few weeks, young Iko’s nasal noises will be a distant memory. But I’m glad I got to spend this little moment in the air with this hero in the making.
Islets is aimed less at metroidvania fans than at lovers of epic experiences. But if you like both, you might be drawn to the simplicity of this little indie title. The game is now available on PC, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.