Sunlight - An Astonishing Artistic Experience
A Tranquil Walk in the Forest...Alone
A Path Less Traveled
What makes a video game a video game? For most, it's interactivity. There's an entire genre of video games around now that minimize interactivity to a level where it feels almost unnecessary. Instead, players are transported to a more passive place to better show off the world that has been built. One game that fits this mould is Sunlight, an undeniably beautiful game that asks little of those who play it. It is very evident how passionate Krillbrite Studios is about keeping our world healthy and beautiful in this walking simulation game. In an act to combat climate change, the indie developers are currently planting one tree for every copy of Sunlight that is downloaded.
The Lonely Road
There are few things in life more relaxing than a walk in a quiet forest. Sunlight takes that idea and runs with it, giving players a brief respite from the world around them and allowing them to just experience a moment in a beautiful place. There are no puzzles here, no combat, and no real mystery to solve. There's simply a place to be, and for that, the game deserves some points for originality.
There are no puzzles here, no combat, and no real mystery to solve.
The only thing that hurts the game's concept is the fact that others have already done similar things, and perhaps done them with a bit more interactivity. It's hard to say that there is a good reason for this game to be a video game rather than a lovely meditation video. The method of presentation works, of course, but not in a way that makes a huge case for it taking the form it takes.
Concept Rating: 3/5
The Music of the Forest
There is no denying that Sunlight is a gorgeous game. The hand-painted aesthetic is perfect for this kind of game, giving players a feeling of walking within a work of art even as they explore their surroundings. It's hard to gush enough about how beautiful everything looks, from the simple flowers to the surprisingly detailed trees. The visuals are simply amazing.
As lovely as the visuals are, the sound design is what takes the game to an entirely different level.
The term 'soundscape' is used quite a bit to describe the aural world of video games, but it feels especially apparent here. The whispering voices of the trees are certainly unique, but they manage to feel friendly and relaxing rather than creepy. Tchaikovsky's "Hymn of the Cherubim" also provides a fantastic bit of background music for the game as a whole, creating an audio world that's greater than the sum of its parts.
Graphics & Audio: 5/5
A Quick Journey
It's incredibly hard to see how Sunlight can be classified as a video game, even if you play it to its conclusion. At around thirty minutes long, it's a bite-size experience that never really goes anywhere. There's something to be said for listening to the trees and having a quiet walk, of course, but there's nothing here that makes the game a video game.
At around thirty minutes long, it's a bite-size experience that never really goes anywhere.
There are plenty of so-called 'walking simulators' out there and many of them give players a reason to keep moving forward. Sunlight gives nothing but a brief bit of beauty, which may be the point of this game. It's a lovely experience even if it isn't necessarily one that you're going to love to play.
Gameplay Rating: 1/5
A Brief Interlude
Sunlight is a finite experience that reaches its end all too soon. While there's nothing bad about being short or self-contained, it's hard to justify the price tag on this game. At least you know you're supporting the indie studios' climate crisis movement.
Once you've played Sunlight, you've seen all there is to see - there are no secrets and the odds of actually missing anything are slim. The adventure game is, however, a great tool for brief periods of relaxation and mindfulness - it's just a shame that there's not more to explore in this lush and lovely landscape.
Replayability Rating: 1/5
Sunlight is a relaxing and beautiful walking simulator that is long on aesthetic appeal and short on gameplay.