A downloadable game

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SOLAR DESCENT is a WIP action-adventure game (playable tech demo available below) for the Playdate handheld console in the vein of classic The Legend of Zelda games combined with modern ideas found in e.g. Dark Souls and Hollow Knight.

SOLAR DESCENT features real-time combat, two attack buttons, on the fly switching of abilities, clever combat integration of the crank, elaborate menus and map systems.

  • Explore the world and dungeons to gain new abilities
  • Fight monsters and bosses
  • Solve puzzles and navigate through traps and obstacles
  • Use abilities to progress and discover new areas
  • Find and equip relics to enhance your abilities
  • Use XP to upgrade your stats

SOLAR DESCENT  is tuned to be challenging. If you find some experimental features to be too fiddly or prefer a more casual experience, there are plenty of accessibility options to tailor the game to your taste. You can e.g. turn off damage or the stamina system, make stamina regenerate passively instead of using the crank or make challenge rooms easier.

Despite being made in Pulp, a simple but heavily limited game engine for uncomplicated adventure games, SOLAR DESCENT manages to squeeze a lot of gamey gameplay into a tiny, yellow package.

What is the Playdate?

The Playdate is a handheld game console made by Panic. It was released in 2022 and features a crisp black and white screen, clicky D-pad and face buttons and a crank. All crammed into a tiny, yellow shell designed by Teenage Engineering.

Find out more about the Playdate here.

Don't have a Playdate?

Don't have a niche handheld game console you haven't heard about? Don't want to wait for months/a year for your console to ship?

You're not out of luck. The Playdate SDK dev tools come with a simulator/emulator. Download and install the SDK for free. Find and open the simulator app. Drag the .pdx to the simulator to play. Connect a controller to your computer and substitute the crank with an analog stick.

Find out more about the Playdate SDK dev tools here.


State of Demo

The demo contains the first part of the final game with as good as all the bells and whistles. Some parts have been available in previous demos, but this features interconnected areas, characters, side quests, music, sound effects and more. Keep in mind that the demo only shows the first part of the final game. There will be more mechanics to unlock and different types of enemies to encounter in the full game.

Changelog v0.40 (Released 240427):

  • New: Added new areas to explore.
  • New: Added a somewhat coherent quest progression and additional side quest.
  • New: Improved dialogue system.
  • New: Replaced placeholder music with actual music.
  • New: Added lots of sound effects.
  • New: Implemented scene transitions.
  • Probably lots of stuff I can't remember.

Known Bugs in v0.40

  • None...? :)


 : Move
 : Use sub weapon
 : Use main weapon
 : Dock to enter menu
 : Undock to exit menu
 : Crank one turn to enter a cranking state. While in cranking state:
          - Crank clockwise to refill stamina
          - Crank counter clockwise to use flask charges to restore HP
          - Press  or  to switch sub weapon


Doing anything in Pulp that wasn't explicitly intended requires extensive fool proofing and failsafe fallbacks to ensure the game doesn't break, soft lock or worse. If you encounter wonky behaviour or game breaking bugs, please let me know.

Have fun! If you like what you're seeing, leave a few encouraging words to keep me motivated.

StatusIn development
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(4 total ratings)
Made withPlaydate
Tags1-bit, Action-Adventure, Action RPG, Dungeon Crawler, Pixel Art, Playdate, Top-Down, zelda
Average sessionAbout a half-hour


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

SOLAR-DESCENT-(DEMO-0.40).pdx.zip 582 kB

Development log


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I cannot wait for the full game!  Looks great!


Thanks! My plan was to have a full game out by now, but life got in the way. A big chunk of the game is done or planned. I am almost done with a new demo. Some new content, lots of polish (sfx, music, NPCs, scripted scenes, side quest).


Thanks & I'm looking forward to it.

(2 edits) (+1)

I was so excited to see your trailer on Tiny Yellow Machine's playdate direct! I already played and loved the the demo  and I'm thrilled that you will be releasing a full game! 

Also, I sideloaded the updated demo and I found a really weird bug. By selecting "continue" the player spawned on the title screen. Buttons don't work correctly (A plays the opening animation and B does nothing). There doesn't seem to be a way to get to the game proper other than to go to playdate home start a new game. Clearly a bug but also it's kind of cool to walk around in a field of stars.

Anyway, thank you for creating Solar Descent. I am going to try the 0.3 demo and I look forward to the full release! 

player spawns on title screen

Played demo 2.0,  sideloaded 3.0, selected continue. Save data still present on device.
(3 edits)

Ah, there’s probably been a few changes to the name of rooms and some variables between the builds. This makes old save data wonky at best. I planned to add a save data version check, but never got to it. I’ll add a line about not using old save data  Thanks!

Selecting “new game” and entering a new room to trigger auto save should “fix” your problems, i.e. once the game has new save data “continue” should work as intended. Let me know if it doesn’t. 

Edit: Found a bug that would crash the game (forgot to declare a portrait to use after the first dialogue box, would only crash the game if you spoke to the NPC after reloading a game). Added a save version check while at it  and pushed out a new update, version 0.31. 


First comment on this site. Very good! Albeit a bit frustrating! I often find myself running out of AP, but I'm used to Zelda-likes rather than Souls-likes. HOWEVER, despite my, ahem, dislike of Souls-likes and general apprehension towards Souls-like mechanics, this feels like a mostly happy marriage of the two concepts so far. Given the lack of a start and/or a select button, I find that your use of docking the crank to open a menu is an absolutely genius move! I've seen some games on here make use of an option in the little circle button menu as a means of accessing in-game menus before, but this is much more clever and intuitive- great usage of the crank all around!


What an honor to have your first comment be on my game! My goal is to integrate the crank into the gameplay loop in a meaningful way.


this is awesome. My one thought is whether you could implement continuous movement rather than the grid/tile based movement. I just feel like that freedom of movement is more enjoyable for me at least. Is that an intentional design choice or a limitation of pulp?

Thanks! The grid based movement is unfortunately a limitation of Pulp. There are ways to fake smooth movement or rather create the illusion of it, but the movement will still be tied to the grid. 


gotcha. I still think fake smooth movement of the character and enemies (even if there was no diagnal movement) might feel better to play. That being said I understand how the current movement adds it’s own challangr.


I think it would look better, but I'm not sure if it would feel better, at least not for player movement. The movement would be less responsive due to "input lag". The player technically moved but you have to wait for the animation to finish before you can do your next action. It would probably work for a game without combat or at most range combat. Not so much for melee combat.

If things go well I will look into porting the game to PC or Gameboy with proper smooth movement. :)


I just played through the demo on hardware and absolutely loved it. It made me feel like I was starting a full game that I was excited to play. I enjoyed many things about the current content, like the art direction and the crank integrations, but I thought that the combat was especially good. It felt slow-paced and tactical, which I didn't expect, and the degree of challenge it offered was just right for me. Getting the rhythm of the turns down felt good, and the 4 or so deaths I had during the boss fight felt completely fair because I could immediately see my mistakes and how to fix them. I would love to pay for a full version of this with as much content as you're willing to cram into it. Probably my favorite experience on the Playdate so far! I hope you keep up your momentum and can move ahead to full production.


Thanks for playing the demo and taking time to write down your thoughts!

Glad you like the game so far. There is absolutely an  element of rhythm to the combat (partly due to rigidness and limitations of the web based game engine) that rewards well-timed attacks and careful spacing. 

I'm aiming to release the full game this year with 7-8 areas and accompanying dungeons. Making steady progress. It would be faster if I didn't have a day job and a toddler to care for.


Those pesky responsibilities do tend to get in the way of the fun stuff


Just saw your latest devlog. I'm looking forward to trying the new demo!


Oh no! That means I have to work to deliver on my promises now. :D


Hey there :)
Will there be a notification once the game is finished? Looks super fun so far!! 

I think it would be easier to enter the menu via the menu button on the top right, rather than via docking and undocking the crank.


I’m not sure how itch.io works or when it sends out notifications, but I will announce it on every channel I have access to when the game is finished. 

I would love to use the top right menu button, but that button is not available in games made with Pulp.


alright, I'll keep watching for your announcement :)

I did not know that the button is not available with Pulp.. 


Looking super neat, good luck with the project!


Thanks, mate!