Actual Sunlight Review

Originally published on Trevor Trove on January 22, 2016

TL; DR(eview) – Actual Sunlight is an important story to experience if you’ve ever considered yourself depressed or suicidal (or even if you haven’t). It’ll only take you an hour-and-a-half to take in the whole story and be reminded that you’re not alone.

Today while I was at work, PlayStation announced an Indie-focused Flash Sale running through Monday, January 25th. I already have a lot of the games I was interested in but one of them caught my eye: Actual Sunlight for $2.00 (normally $4.99). Greg Miller has talked about finding it on a lark not too long ago and sung its praises so I thought I’d give it a go.

For most of my life, I’ve been a very solitary person. I’ve always been pretty good about having groups of friends but I’m typically at my most comfortable when I’m alone with my own thoughts. Unfortunately, sometimes those thoughts dwell on the idea that my often “hermit-like” lifestyle means that there’s something broken about me. Fortunately for me, the logic centers in my brain kick in and enforce the idea that, “no, that just makes me human/an introvert.”

But every once in a while, those logic centers take a break and the depression sticks around. While I’ve never been suicidal per se, I have in the past thought long about what would happen if I were just suddenly gone. Who among my friends and family would truly mourn and who wouldn’t even take the time to write out a Facebook eulogy?

In its hour-and-a-half experience, Actual Sunlight strikes a lot of nerves on depression. Depression over work and a career. Depression over love and romance. Depression over the day-to-day struggles of life itself. Even if you’ve never felt depressed to the degree of the game’s protagonist, it is so well articulated that it is absolutely worth experiencing.

One of the reasons I have grown up loving games, especially as they have grown up with me, is that the interactive way in which they tell stories makes them a powerful force for empathy. Playing through this game has forever altered how I think of my own depression and will try to respect what others may or may not be going through. Even if that change is slight, it is a change that game from putting myself in the character’s shoes something you can only get in games or if (like me) you dabble in acting. The passive nature of other art forms like literature, television, and film add an extra layer of separation between the art and the audience. By walking around Evan Winters’ tiny apartment, I – the player – become innately more connected to him than I am to say, Michael Keaton’s character in Birdman.

So if you have a couple hours and a Vita or PC, I encourage you to check this game out.

Actual Sunlight is available on PC or PlayStation Vita. Visit the game’s website for more information.

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