Actual Sunlight Review

Actual Sunlight Featured

Actual Sunlight Boxart

Developer: Will O’Neill
Publisher: Will O’Neill
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, Steam

Depression is difficult to comprehend for anyone not suffering from it. Even those who live with depression can find it incredibly difficult to pin down in any certain terms. Despite being an affliction that people all over the world suffer from, many even fail to recognize it as a real issue. It’s likely some with that mindset will somehow stumble onto Actual Sunlight. Perhaps playing the game will shift perceptions.

Actual Sunlight stars Evan Winters. He is not a spry, spiky-haired teen nor a grizzled marine as per gaming conventions. He sits somewhere in the middle as a dejected, completely average guy. Every day he heads to work in an office with people who he either dislikes, or likes, but they don’t return those feelings. If you’ve ever felt alone or like a loser then try and amplify that many magnitudes over. Then maybe you’ll have the slightest inkling of how he feels.

Actual Sunlight Featured

Evan is down and painfully so. Playing the game basically involves interacting with nearby objects and people, most of which gets Evan to discuss the item in question. Usually, this results in spiteful comments about himself or others. Sometimes darkly humorous, it’s easy to see that he’s far from a healthy mental state. Regardless of what he says the reader is left with a tangible feeling of hopelessness. As the game progresses you can see as daily life pushes him further down.

Actual Sunlight tells this story primarily through Evan’s thoughts and the brief discussions he has with others. Interestingly, the visuals recall retro RPGs, with a top-down perspective and NPCs milling about. However, beyond interacting with the surroundings there’s little traditional gameplay to speak of. I’m much more compelled to call this a visual novel, despite the direct control scheme.

10

Lately there have been games launching that focus on telling a story directly from the creator – likely sharing very personal details. If that’s not your cup of tea then that’s a shame because you’re missing out. It was hard to play Actual Sunlight to completion, even though it took only an hour. I ached, perhaps for Evan, but in part for my own lived experiences. I was compelled to see how Evan’s plight would play out. I wanted to hear his thoughts and experience second-hand what that kind of life was like for him. Because the narrative doesn’t offer some sort of sappy conclusion it felt all that more real.

I couldn’t care less about droll storylines that get pumped out in games continuously because they impart no emotional impact. Games like Actual Sunlight need to continue hitting the scene. Maybe we’ll eventually see other developers test the waters.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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  • I’m not quite sure how but somehow I missed this releasing on Steam and overlooked it completely, thinking it was some sort of educational plant-growing game (I was thinking of this I think: http://store.steampowered.com/app/248290/)……but wow haha, this is quite different. I added it to my wishlist last night actually after reading a different review on it. It definitely seems very heartfelt and it appears to be quite the unique “game” to experience. I’ve dealt with depression-like feelings before so I can definitely see where Evan is coming from.

    I’ll have to get it sometime! 🙂

    Nice review too!

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