Review: Actual Thoughts on ACTUAL SUNLIGHT

Evan Winter from Actual Sunlight

Evan Winter from Actual Sunlight

The majority of PlayStation users are currently PS Plus members, and this means that out of everything released, the games that will hold the highest download analytics will be free games. Every month there will be a new set of free games given to all current members of PS Plus who build their own anticipation and look up the games upon the list announced via Playstation Blog the week prior, while others just simply download the games and try them themselves, holding their own excitement for what journey or story they are about to spend their next month playing, giving a unique opinion and experience of the game for each player.

I am one of the many users who enjoys the surprise of what games are to come, and choose to look the titles once they are announced. However, my research stops there. I don't look into the game play, or videos of the game. Preferably, I just like to play the games offered for free and put together my own opinion on my personal experience. This is typically an innocent, non-problematic approach to video games, but now I have an experience that I could of used a little bit more of a "heads up" for and will probably have me checking games out before I dive head first into the game.

As you may be aware, October gave us some great titles on the PS4 including Transformers: Devastation and Resident Evil Remake. However, on the PS Vita we were given a visual novel, Code Realize Guardian of Rebirth,  and a playable interactive story game, Actual Sunlight. This interactive story is the game I wish to focus on in this article and hope all of you reading will stick with me until the end.

The free monthly games are an amazing, and completely generous, addition to have on a PS Plus membership, and I have enjoyed many games that have been released on all systems: PS4, PS3and PS Vita. I do not wish to make the wrong impression about free PS Plus games in this article, and I hope you understand that I am talking strictly talking about the game Actual Sunlight being released as one of the offers.

Taking what you are about to read out of context will completely change what I am trying to inform you about and I want to be very clear about this. That said, I want to start with a simple review of the game, as it was created to be played and the mechanics. Nothing More.

The Review

The game has the graphics of the original Nintendo handheld Gameboy where your character is a sprite with little detail, but each has enough unique detail to tell them apart. The goal of the game is to follow your main character, Evan Winter,  as he makes his way through everyday life, reading the on-screen texts which are his internal thoughts, conversations and delusions. You'll also interact with others in the world, increasing the understanding of Evan Winter's perspective.

Offering realistic situations presented on a total of five layout sections, this game can easily be intriguing and some players may find they are able to relate. As you follow Evan Winter, you begin to see him slowly descend to the madness of loneliness and self-destructive thoughts. The emotions of the character may begin to match the emotions you feel as the story continues and pulls you in.

The game was a great experience! I enjoyed following the character through this situation, and felt a connection with him during the situations he was put in. Pity, sadness, anger and loathing are the key emotions that the game relies on, and I have to say, they know how to hit you where it hurts. Small details like that make Evan Winter's life and your own seem similar, and that is what makes the game amazing. And even though the plot is overall bitter, there is an understanding character that shows players with similar emotions and situations that they are not alone.

Now, for the section where you will need to read all the way through to understand. I started with the review, because I do think the game was well put together and completely did it's job as far as what the game offers.

HOWEVER

This game has situations that many people can relate to, and uses psychological tactics like, comparing Evan Winter  to being a *piece of shit* because he was buying video games. Buying video games is something that all of us do, otherwise we would not be gamers, and in calling Evan out they are also talking about all of us as well. I, for one, do not think it's a big deal to buy a game here and there. By the time this is introduced you have already gotten to know Evan, his emotions and relate to him and the situation he is in.

The start of this game comes with a disclaimer stating that the game will be based on a depressing theme and you have to hit "yes" to continue through the game. While this is perfect and completely covers the entirety of this article, as well as, covers the creators and publishers of the game from any recompense from exaggerated actions their consumers may do in mimic or reflect of their experience of the game: the fact that they had to cover themselves due to the possibility of exaggerated actions is the exact thing I want to talk about.

Many people face very serious situations such as: loneliness, depression and suicidal thoughts - the key's to the story of Actual Sunlight. This knowledge of the people in these situations and emotions is disheartening and we urge anybody with serious thoughts and situations look for help or outlets. At the bottom of this article I will list phone numbers and options for you to take advantage of or suggest to a family or friend that you know is going through this and could use a helping hand.

Getting to the Point

PS Plus free games are what draw many to continue their membership and, for many, is the only way they can get new games to play. As any ritually completed task is done by a corporation, there is always a screening process or a layout designed for selecting the games that are picked to be the free games of the coming month. I do not know the specifics for Playstation'sscreening or layout format for their game selections, but Actual Sunlightis one game that should NOT have passed this phase and should have been tossed in the "put it on discount later" pile, at best. 

Why would I think this if my review of the game was a positive one, you may ask? It's not the fact that the games theme is depression and it's not just because it is a story that many can find themselves able to relate to. More than anything else, I am talking about the divulsion of the character's emotions and mental state as the story is brought about to the ending that is "left open for interpretation." I disagree that this ending was left for the player to interpret what happens as at the end due to the topic he is discussing with himself.

*Spoiler Section*
In the close of the game, your character will decide that his actions have been worthless and that talks of life as a prison, narrowing your previously various choices of where to go to only being able to go to the roof, changing all the options that were laid out before to "Roof" giving you no option. Once you are up there, there is nothing to interact with other than the ledge to the far north. Once you interact with this, the final segment of writing is displayed and the thought's consist of the freedom of release and how peaceful just letting go would be. The final picture (which are this games cut scenes) shown is Evan Winter looking over the railing with a smile on his face.

This is supposedly able to be interpreted as he is giving up on stressing over details or perhaps choosing to take it easy as he continues through life. The point of view of the player and the emotional attachment will be what determines how to see this ending. I am a much darker thinker and see this as him talking about how sweet suicide would be, and that he welcomes death to free him from the gripping embrace that is life. To those with with the self-destructive mindset and those who feel lonely and/or depressed can see the same version of the ending I saw and due to the talk of there being a relief in a release, like death, can aid in somebody turning to follow the actions they believe they have just experienced through Evan Winter's actions.

Due to the fact that this is even POSSIBLE, I think it is very morbid and disturbing that PlayStation would allow this game to be released as a completely free game to their entire community of players! We are talking about millions of people. While only thousands own the PS Vita, the number of players who will interact with this game, completely unknowing of how intense the emotions can get from the plot, is larger than you may think. This game should not have been released in the manner it was.

Now, I am not saying that the game should not have been created. It is a great game with an excellent story, and just like movies, not everything can be happy-go-lucky, action and horror. My review written on the top of this article is my opinion of the game from a stand point of a player who enjoys raw emotion based stories and games that can interpret them to relate to the player.

Am I saying that someone may play through this game and then decide to take drastic measures into their own hand? Not at all. While the possibility is there, I believe this would be more of a "tip-of-the-iceberg" type situation. It saddens me to think that somebody may see the ending, interpret it the way I did and it "confirm" some awful thought in their head. I wish that an article like this never even had a need to be written, but that is not the case. These issues are real and this game shows the raw truth of how it is to fight yourself on the inside while those around you think it's some kind of joke.

For those of you that agree with this article, know somebody going through these types of situations or are going through this on your own, please know, You Are Not Alone.
Many struggle with issues and self-conflict. Our team here at Gametyrant encourage you to reach out to friends, family, an option listed below or even seek us out to talk to.
We care about all of you and we want you to enjoy, not only games, but being a player in the game that offers the best graphics possible: Real Life.

Professional Help Can Be Found at Any of the Following:
Suicide Hotline - 1-800-273-8255
Matt's Foundation for Suicide Help Website
Suicide Prevention Help Guide Website

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