Much like the gentle flapping of butterfly wings, our everyday decisions have unforeseen consequences that will catch up with us, for better or worse. Those very decisions could result in a happy life filled with incredible highs and sustainable lows or they could drown a person in hopelessness and unbearable misery. In Actual Sunlight, an indie adventure game by Will O'Neill, the key character Evan Winter is embroiled in the darkest of emotions and thoughts: suicidal ideations, self-loathing, loneliness, and severe depression. Told through extensive, self-deprecating narratives laced with sarcasm, Winters takes you down a dark path that will leave your emotions in a stranglehold.
Despite the morbid overtone, the game still plays like your usual adventure where you guide your character with the [arrow] keys and tap the [spacebar] to interact with people or objects. The story unfolds through your discoveries, so to get the full effect of the game you'll want to talk with everyone and investigate every object. All of those discoveries give you a glimpse into the mind of Evan and the very real, very dark hole he's slowly sinking into.
With such a bleak topic, modest interactive options, and a play through that won't be more than an hour, it would be easy to write this game off. Though brief, Actual Sunlight does something that few games are capable of doing: It traps you into the same feelings as the protagonist. The lack of decisions push you into that corner where you're forced to read the macabre thoughts that will inevitably make you pause and realize, oh no, some of this hits far too close to home. As the days pass for Evan you'll be hard-pressed to question why he feels the way he does. Instead you'll have anxiety twisting your gut knowing there's no happy ending but wishing, hoping desperately that there could be. This won't be the game that gets the best graphics award, it won't be the one that makes you feel accomplished for outwitting some puzzle. No, this is the game that once you're done playing you'll sit in front of your computer screen, take a deep breath, and question every choice you have ever made and all the ones that you haven't and that, more than anything else, is what sets this game apart from all the rest.
Due to the nature of the game and the mindset of the protagonist, the thoughts and conversations that occur are not going to be family friendly. You must also install the free RPG Maker VX RTP in to play Actual Sunlight.
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