Review: Sunset (PC)

PC, Mac, SteamOS

 

Developer: Tale of Tales
Publisher: Tale of Tales
Genre: First Person Adventure
Price: $19.99

Honor

 

Video games are everywhere these days. We see references to them in movies,TV shows, and even in advertisements for things completely unrelated. Video games have made themselves a huge part of our culture by offering more of an interactive experience than any other form of entertainment is capable. They can pull emotions out of the recipient like no other branch of hobby. I certainly found this to be the case with Sunset.

Story

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Set in the 1970’s, you play as Angela Burnes, who has moved to Anchuria to clean the apartment of the wealthy and mysterious Gabriel Ortega. While you are cleaning, civil war is brewing against its cruel and harsh dictator. Day by day, you have new tasks to finish in the apartment, all the while the war continues right outside of Gabriel’s window. As the days pass by, you learn more about your enigmatic employer and about the situation outside.

Content Warning

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As your time in the apartment progresses, more and more artwork is displayed in the house, mostly statues and busts. These statues are nude, so that is something to look out for. Angela curses twice (s*** and f***), but they are very far apart from each other. At the end of Sunset we see Angela in her  underwear as well, but it is for a very short part of the game. War is essentially the main focus of the game, but no real violence is seen. However, there are some explosions and fires that you can see through the windows.
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As for spiritual content, every day starts off with the date and a spiritual “label” to that day, like Pentecost or The Beheading of John the Baptist. Most of these are the names of saints throughout history.

Gameplay

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Sunset is very simple in the control department, which is a very good thing. You have an hour (about ten minutes in real time) each day to fulfill the tasks you were assigned and to discover any other secrets or write in your journal. If you run out of time, you are automatically taken to the next day. You use the arrow keys or WASD to move, aim and interact with the mouse and C to crouch. The only problem I had with the controls were towards the end of the game as more and more boxes appear in the apartment and I would get stuck on them, forcing me to restart that day.
Angela’s character development throughout Sunset is very in depth and personal. You find out more and more about who she was before moving to Anchuria, and you really have the sense that you have helped shape the person that she becomes in the end. Even though character choice is somewhat minimal, there were still times where I had to really consider what the consequences of my choices would be.
After a little bit of progress, Gabriel starts leaving notes revealing more and more about himself throughout the house, to which you can reply with a gentle or cold response. This can also be said about certain objects in the house as well. You can also use the Y key or the N key to give your responses or to do your tasks. An example, one day Gabriel leaves his sweater out to be mended. You can either sew it up in a normal fashion, or you can patch up the hole with a heart. Whether you respond with kindness or anger can affect the outcome of the game, however  I found that it does not take much to get different results. Without trying, I was able to get 71 of the 100 achievements in my first playthrough.

Presentation

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Sunset is a great looking game. Everything has a classic movie feel to it, all while not being too distracting. All of the colors have an almost dim look to them, like most movies from the 70’s, but everything still sticks out. You will not have to worry about anything looking too bland or boring.
There is a sense of monotony to Sunset, as you are essentially in the same big room for the entirety of the game, but the items and situations change from day to day, making you want to come back to work for your next shift. Some days you are allowed into almost all of the rooms while some days you are only allowed in the foyer. Sunset succeeds at keeping you wanting to see what will happen next.
What really drew me in to the game was the music. The soundtrack was composed by Austin Wintory, whom some might know also composed the soundtrack for the indie game Journey. Wintory was able to summon deep and concerning emotions from each piece put together. As you learn more about the country of Anchuria and the characters, Austin Wintory was able to accompany an appropriate track with that experience. I found myself sitting in random places throughout the apartment just listening to the well-done soundtrack.

Conclusion

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Sunset accomplishes something that big name developers have tried to do for years: it takes the effects and heartache of war and makes it personal. As the game progresses, you feel like you grow with Angela. You start to see yourself in her shoes, and at the end, you almost feel like her decisions would be the same ones you would make in her situation. There were plenty of times in Sunset where I had to step back and really think about my choices and how they would affect the ending of the game and the well-being of Angela.
It is not every day that a game falls into the same category as Sunset. It is a near-perfect mesh of emotion and atmosphere that leaves you wanting more long after you have completed your time in Anchuria. Ultimately, Sunset is a rare yet satisfying occasion for those who are looking for a well written, emotionally driven story.
Sunset is not for everyone, as the game does not have any real action, but if you are looking for a game that will really make you think and tug at your heart strings, Sunset is the way to go.

The Bottom Line

 

With a compelling story and the freedom of choice, Sunset puts you into an uncomfortable and pressing world, yet you feel eager to press on. This is one game that you should be sure not to miss.

 

9

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Phil Goins

Phil Goins has been a Christian for over fifteen years and a geek his whole life. When he's not reviewing video games, he plays guitar for his church worship team, makes YouTube videos, delivers newspapers, or is spending time with his beautiful wife Misti and their four legged baby Momo.

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