Review: Actual Sunlight
When first starting up Actual Sunlight, you are given a warning that the game “deals with extremely mature themes, including depression and thoughts of suicide.” New players should absolutely heed this warning, as it deals with some very serious tones. This game is not for everyone, as it can affect some more than others. It is perhaps the most “real” game I’ve ever played. You can relate to how some of the characters feel, and also relate the story back to yourself.
Actual Sunlight is short, very short. The game is very text heavy, and there are no puzzles or gameplay mechanics to speak of. As Evan Winter, a 30 year old male who has no hope for the future. He is overweight, no love life, and is in a dead end job that he hates. The majority of the text plays out as his internal thoughts, and transcripts with his therapist. You’ll take control of Evan as he journeys through a few days in his life that span a few years. And over time you’ll meet new characters and see how their personalities change over time. At times it feels like meeting brand new people. Early on, the game prompts you to interact with objects in the world. Doing so gives the player more insight into the thoughts of Evan and his struggles. Each moment is expertly written and makes Evan and the characters around him even more interesting. In such a short game, you can learn a lot about the characters.
In terms of gameplay, you’ll be reading the thoughts of Evan and talking to others on the street or at work. The game is linear, and there isn’t much in the way of going off the beaten path. When interacting with things in the environment, you’ll learn more about Evan. Most of the interactions aren’t necessary for completing the game, but the more you interact, the more you’ll get out of the game. However, once you complete the game and interact with everything, there isn’t much reason to replay it. Each interaction is easy to find if you roam around the environments even just a little.
Actual Sunlight takes on a retro 8-bit style look, and for the simplicity the game offers, it works well. Objects, people and interactions are clearly defined and look good. At times, an illustrated shot of some of the characters will take stage, and these moments are well done. When viewing the illustrated shots in the story, you can tell a lot about the character without reading any text. The way their eyes are positioned, the way they are sitting or standing, and their overall body language turns out to be very effective. The music in Actual Sunlight compliments what happens in the game well, and in certain sections it hammers home some moments with great effect.
At $5, Actual Sunlight is affordable, but it takes only about an hour and a half to explore and see everything the game has to offer. After you see everything the game has to offer, there isn’t much reason to replay it. When you explore everything, you’ll earn all the trophies. It’s weird to say that at $5, that it might not be worth your money, but I had some of those thoughts. If you are intrigued by a very real story that has expertly written characters, Actual Sunlight may be for you. It’s not for everyone, and it will resonate with some more than others. If you think you can handle some dark and serious themes, I’d say give it a shot.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Very Real and Perhaps Relatable Story
- Artwork Cutscenes
What I Dislike:
- Very, Very Short
- No Real Reason to Replay