Title: Actual Sunlight
Developer: WZO Games Inc
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 77 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Currently Unavailable
PSTV Support: No
There are a lot of games that really try to dive into the human mind with their plotlines. The Silent Hill series is well-known for this. Past the first game, it showed monstrosities around town that represented hidden emotions, feelings, and pain around the main character. Other games do it more literal with having a game focused around the emotions and feelings of a certain person, rather than having that just be a part of the game.
There is one topic and state of mine that many games haven’t really tried to dive into, and that is depression. Being someone who suffers from depression from time to time, I was eager to dive into one of today’s new releases, which I was told dived into that topic. What I found was something very deep and psychological in nature. Without further delay, here is my official review of the story-oriented indie title, Actual Sunlight!
In Actual Sunlight, you play as Evan, a man in his late-twenties and in the middle of a classic extreme case of anxiety and depression. You go through his day-to-day life as he gets up, goes to work, interacts with others, goes shopping, comes home, the list goes on. You are given his situation as well as several thoughts and lessons associated with each and every object and person he interacts with, showing life from the unique perspective of someone in his situation and mind-set.
How they portray this game is what makes the story soar so high. This is about a man who is deeply depressed and every ounce of hurt, pain, regret, annoyance, and obliviousness that comes with that mindset is shown to you as he goes through his daily life. It builds so much to a degree that anyone who has encountered any form of depression (though more than likely never as severe as his) can sympathize with his situation. The way they do all this is also done in such a way that the game is constantly tugging and yanking at your heart-strings.
The game’s final chapter and ending is something that I could not see coming even from a mile away and that’s something that really hits home about this game. It’s not a long game, but from start to finish, it showcases a sorrowful situation that is deep and psychological, and never once fails to keep you on the edge of your seat with looking, praying, hoping for things to turn around for this poor man. It is also an excellent showcasing of how depression can skew your perspective and miss out on very important aspects of your personal life.
Despite the story-driven nature of the game, Actual Sunlight is more than just a novelization of Evan’s daily life. The game also has some mild exploration and adventure elements thrown into the mix. It was made with RPG Maker, the same software that created the first Corpse Party, though Actual Sunlight was initially made with a much newer version of the software. As a genre, though, I would call it a story-driven game with adventure elements.
You play the game with the story directing you forward. You will get scenes, followed by an interaction segment where you can walk around and interact with various objects. These objects could be parts of your apartment, such as a fridge, shower, mirror, tablet, or bed. Or, it could be people that are around, such as co-workers, bosses, bus riders, or food cart owners. Your goal will be to inspect everything you possibly can to get more story information as well as moving the story forward to the next segment.
Every time you interact with an object, you’ll get a story segment in the form of Evan’s inner-thoughts, be it him fantasizing about being with a therapist or talk show host in discussion of his personal life or him speaking to the reader/player and explaining who someone is or what is going on. Regardless, every interaction you make will spark story content for you to read through and to further understand the inner-thoughts and psyche of Evan.
All in all, Actual Sunlight is a very short game. Over the course of the game’s plot, I reached the end credits in a little over an hour. It’s a pretty short ride, and there isn’t any sort of choice-based separate ending. Once you hit the credits, that’s all there is to it. The only optional part of the game is the PSN trophy for looking in the mirror at a certain point of the story. It’s definitely the shortest game I’ve played in a good while.
No one will need to worry about confusing controls. Actual Sunlight is very light on its control scheme. No touch or other Vita-specific features are implemented here. Though PlayStation TV owners should know that this game was not made compatible with the micro-console, for the developer’s own reasons of feeling it better as a handheld experience.
When you’re in control, you can move with the D-Pad or the Left Analog Stick. Interacting with objects or advancing dialogue is done with the X button. Finally, you can use Start to pull up the menu to manage your save data. That’s all the game uses, so you should never have any issues with remembering the control scheme.
The visual presentation of the game is definitely going to be something you don’t expect. The main gameplay is presented like RPG Maker, with 2D sprites moving around environments. This is implemented well, though. All of the renders and movements are crisp and clear. There’s never any pixilation in the graphics and everything runs really well.
If you’re looking for technical faults of the game, like I do in every game I play and review, you will be looking for a very long time. I never experienced any crashing, lag, audio glitches, or anything else that would bring this down on a technical level. The developer did a really nice job of optimizing this for the Vita.
Actual Sunlight is the type of game that you will play and become very emotional soon after. While the game is only an hour long, its gripping narrative and deep dive into the intense side of depression will grab at your emotions from the moment the game begins to the heart-felt ending