Solbrain Knight of Darkness has launched on the PlayStation 4 today. If you never heard of this game, don't worry. Originally it was released in the Mac App Store on May 31st, and a digital PC release on Amazon about a year ago.
I originally looked into it because its logo was enough to give me "bad game" vibes. Instead, I've discovered a strange rabbit hole of stolen music and assets from other games. The game has a trailer on its PlayStation Store page which looks remarkably terrible, but that's beside the point. More interestingly, I recognized the music from the trailer right away as a track from the game Ori and the Blind Forest. Specifically, it is "Restoring the Light, Facing the Dark", which you can listen to here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaiJKLROq5M
We decided to double check and independently confirm that the songs are the same.
You can see our screenshot there, and also click here to see the files we used to double check this. (If you want a quick check on the web, the 0:36 on the Ori video above lines up with around the 0:52 mark in the trailer on the PSN page)
Furthermore, it seems things go deeper than just the music. A thread on NeoGAF has found various assets from the game that have been taken from other games. For example, the game's logo appears to be ripped off from a picture titled "Elf Wallpaper" by Deviantart user Coocoon. Other claims include that the logo in the lower left corner of the screenshots/trailer is taken from World of Warcraft, the shield is taken from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and that the character model is taken from Tera.
Solbrain Knight of Darkness was developed by Lightning Game Studios, whose Twitter profile can be found here. Interestingly, the logo from their official Twitter page is that of a Dead or Alive character, and it is written in a font popularized by The Legend of Zelda series. The page claims they are based in the United States, Brazil, and Japan, and it links to their iOS Appstore page rather than any official site.
We have reached out to Lightning Game Studios, Moon Game Studios, and Sony for comment on the issue. We will update this article if we receive anything in response.
Update: Moon Game Studios has responded to our e-mail confirming that the song is indeed from Ori and the Blind Forest, but did not want to comment further. On the aforementioned NeoGAF thread one of Moon Game Studios artists, Thomas Mahler, has also confirmed that the music was stolen. He also mentions talking with Microsoft to get them to investigate it.
We'll continue to update this as more information becomes available.
Update 2: The more we look into this game, the more examples of shady behavior seem to pop up.
It seems that the PlayStation Store's description for Solbrain Knight of Darkness is extremely similar to that of an independent game on Steam called Odallus: The Dark Call. The description of Solbrain on the PlayStation Store is as follows:
The old gods have forgotten this land (Cannae). No one could save our people when darkness began to spread and collect the souls of men for his army. Solbrain - Knight of Darkness is a 3D exploration game.
Player takes place (Gaia), a young warrior tired of struggle that must wield his sword to rescue his people from the darkness, and avenge the death of his parents against the powerful (Anibal) and his army of monsters and warriors.
And the one on Odallus is this:
The old gods have forgotten this land. No one could save our people when darkness started spreading and collecting human souls for its army.
Odallus is a classic exploration/action game, inspired by Ghosts’n Goblins, Demon’s Crest and Castlevania. Player takes place of Haggis, a warrior tired of fight who must wield his sword once more to rescue his son from Darkness.
Toss the two of them into a plagiarism checker and what do you get?
The first 16 words are exactly the same with the exception of the addition of "(Cannae)". After that, it's mostly small segments, with most of the differences being a single word change or the addition of more words in parentheses.
To add onto this, a NeoGAF user has also figured out where the trophy images come from. User TehGoomba posted this image of the game's trophies to make fun of its choice of words:
Another user, "Rellik", pointed out that the trophies are actually taken from 3D model sale site TurboSquid. Now you can actually purchase the trophy models, but it appears that these are just pictures of the showcase. You can tell by the reflections being exactly the same in both pictures. Notably, in the picture for the "Knight" trophy you can actually see the reflection of the gold trophies sitting next to the model stolen from the showcase.
It also seems like this isn't the first time the developer has done this. On the same NeoGAF thread, user "Dragonslayer_023" has posted a picture from one of the developer's earlier games, a PlayStation Mobile game called Solbrain III - Snow. He notes that the logo for this game is that of a character named Yoko from the anime Tegen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
Finally, it's worth pointing out that the banner image for Lightning Game's Twitter account is just a bunch of artwork taken from other developers. For example, you can clearly see Grand Theft Auto V's Trevor. It could just be a fan image, but it's not the kind of thing you want on your official game development company's Twitter.