REVIEW: Sunlight

Jan
18

REVIEW: Sunlight

Sunlight is a thirty-minute walk through a beautiful forest enhanced by a wonderful Tchaikovsky arrangement. It’s a decent entry in the walking sim genre.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Walking Simulator
Developer: Krillbite Studio
Publisher: Krillbite Studio
Release date: 16 Dec, 2020

Intro

Sunlight is created by the same people who brought you Among the Sleep, Mosaic and The Plan. It is a true walking simulator in the sense that your only input in the game is to walk slowly through the forest, occasionally picking up a flower to add to your bunch.

Journey through a forest artistically inspired by painters such as Monet and Munch. Each tree whispers the narrative in its own voice which can be male or female and ranging all different kinds of dialects.

For every copy of the game downloaded, a tree will be planted. Read more about the climate project on Sunlight

Gameplay🕹️

You walk through a forest listening to a narrative told by the whispering trees. Each tree has a voice, acted in different genders and dialects. They speak almost simultaneously as you pass. Depending on how close you are to the tree will determine the loudness of the voice. If you approach one tree you will hear that tree the loudest and maybe hear a few other trees in a quieter voice. If you stand in the middle of a bunch of trees you might hear many different voices at the same sound level. This is when it got confusing for me so I tried to approach a single tree whilst listening to the narrative on the second play through and I think this helped.

The voices are completely different and are represented by people from all over the World giving it a unifying and global feel.

Every so often, usually when the narrative prose ends, a flower will appear in a cacophony of light. There are about three of four different flowers to choose from. Walking over to the flower and picking it up adds it to your bunch and the narrative begins again. This is repeated until you have a bunch of five or six flowers and the story ends.

Story 📕

I was a little disappointed with the story.

There is a clear message about death and the journey from prognosis to the end. The forest is tied into the story with notes of nature and rebirth and their project to plant as many new trees as possible would certainly fit into this category.

I just didn’t feel much emotionally from the story. Perhaps it was the briefness of the tale or the fact that the multiple voices sometimes made it sound difficult to hear.

The language spoken can be quite profound and the use of imagery and fantasy can throw the story off track occasionally. I wish they’d kept it a bit more simple and explained more about the character’s feelings confronting such a daunting conclusion. There are hints and slices of such but it didn’t go deep enough for me to connect and relate.

Graphics 🕹️

The graphics are gorgeous to look at and are reminiscent of an oil painting. The effect looks spectacular although I did find the environment to look a bit similar and there wasn’t much contrast in areas.

Sometimes the forest reacts to the narrative, for example a gust of wind will blow leaves around and the story tells of the forest breathing.

It’s a shame there weren’t any animals in the woods to liven things up a bit. I would have also liked to have seen some landmarks like buildings or some water features like streams or rivers.

Sound🎵

Arranged by Tchaikovsky and beautifully sung by the award-winning choir Kammerkoret Aurum in Norway, it lifts and enhances the narrative and gameplay.

Now and again, you’ll hear the wind, some insect and bird noises and even wind chimes but I don’t think there was enough of these.

Verdict

Sunlight is very short at only thirty minutes of playtime.

I attempted it once with headphones and once without. You definitely need to play this game with headphones on. The whispering trees tell the story and it just doesn’t work properly without headphones.

Whilst the different voices, harmoniously talking in different genders and different dialects, is impressive, it also becomes quite confusing. Often, I would miss chunks of dialogue because there’s too many voices saying the same thing slightly out of sync and at varying sound levels. Instead of creating an array of different voices which enhanced the narrative, it actually marred the narrative a bit for me. I ended up moving around and hugging one tree just so that I could hear only one voice telling the story.

The story was open to interpretation as a lot of games in this genre are. I did find that it felt quite poetic in its approach, using imagery and advanced language to paint its story. I didn’t get much of an emotional reaction to the tale. It was about death and rebirth and a synergy with nature.

The forest is beautiful. The developers have deliberately designed the landscape to look like an oil painting and it works really well. The forest is quite uniform however and there aren’t many contrasting areas. It all looks the same.

The title is described as an exploration game but I would say this is misleading. Although you can walk around whilst the narrative is being told, there isn’t much to see apart from the forest. There are no animals, birds, items to read or hidden areas. It is a straight walk through a wood that looks very similar throughout. You do get the option of picking up different coloured flowers during narrative breaks but even then, there are only two or three different flowers to add to your bunch as you are walking. I would have liked to have seen water features and buildings in the mix or anything other than more trees.

The sound was the highlight for me. Arranged by Tchaikovsky and sung by the award-winning choir Kammerkoret Aurum in Norway. It is stunning and incredibly relaxing. Again, it did feel slightly repetitive but beautiful nonetheless.

At the end of the game, you can leave a message on a tree stump which I thought was a nice touch.

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