If you’re fond of the fairly specific blend of doomy theology, rich art direction and Soulslike-tinted metroidvaning encapsulated by Blasphemous, you might also enjoy Saviorless from Cuban team Empty Head Games and publisher Dear Villagers, which now has a PC release date of 2nd April.

Saviorless grabs me for a couple of reasons. Firstly there’s the development team’s choice of inspirations: platformers such as Earthworm Jim and Demon’s Crest on the one hand, and on the other, comic books, stained glass windows and 19th-century symbolist art. I am keen on all these things. Secondly, there’s Empty Head’s older characterisation of it as “a product of this unique moment in Cuban history”, to quote the 2016 Indiegogo funding page – “a reflection of our personal experiences in Cuba, from the crumbling scenery to the unpredictable story to the stylized and hand drawn artwork.”

Saviorless Launch Date Trailer

In Saviorless you play Antar, “a recklessly curious child” who has travelled to an archipelago full of abominable creatures on a quest to become a Savior, whatever that means in practice. Antar seems pretty vulnerable, a gangly figure in a robe depicted running away from various grinning, long-limbed monsters. So it’s just as well that you can switch between Antar and two other characters with different abilities, a powerful masked avatar and a bestial hunter called Nento, “who will do whatever it takes to become the unexpected protagonist of this story”.

Saviorless’s setting, the Smiling Islands, is a place of ruins, waterfalls, catacombs and deathly machinery that puts me in mind of Sundered. Here’s how the developers themselves describe the look and feel of the world: “the characters and creatures are rendered in an exaggerated, almost grotesque manner with realistic anatomical structures – yet sit within a vividly cartoonish world of thick black outlines and flat, pure colors.” I’m not sure whether this is still true, but earlier press bulletins make mention of an overarching quest to find out what’s happened to the Great God who once held this poisoned realm together.

The setting channels Empty Head’s feelings about a home country and culture that are undergoing rapid alteration. “The internet is just beginning to spread on the island,” the developers wrote back in 2016. “Relations with the US are improving. The economy is changing. The people are optimistic for the future, but uncertain what that future will look like.”

Again, I’m not sure whether this represents their view of the game today – eight years is a long time. According to the current presskit, it’s been a rocky road for Saviorless. “Despite initial support and crowdfunding success, the team faced setbacks due to political tensions, budget constraints, game name trademark conflict, and the loss of a key member,” it explains.

You can find Saviorless on Steam and Epic Games Store. I’m certainly going to be keeping an eye on it.

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