Warning: This review discusses serious themes of depression and suicide as found in Actual Sunlight. Reader discretion is advised. (If you are depressed, I do not recommend playing this game at all.)
Actual Sunlight is billed as an “Interactive Short Story” about a overweight man in his early thirties who is depressed. It was originally made with RPG maker and has since been released to the Steam and Vita marketplaces.
Interactive may not the correct word to use when talking about this game. The game is about 45 minutes long with no decisions to make or paths to choose. You must simply examine everything in each room you are in and read the thoughts of your main character which are presented mostly on a black screen for you to read The character, Evan Winter is a misanthropic, alcoholic man with suicidal thoughts.
I cannot recommend this experience. It is a self biographical story of a person with severe issues. It was not cathartic according to the writer, Will O’Neill, which he talks about in a interview with Polygon. I don’t think it would be very helpful for people with depression either for it appears to attempt to justify suicide. Which is ridiculous.
According to Evan Winter’s depressed mind people like him are lying to themselves if they carry any hope that there is a meaningful happy life for them that extends into their forties, fifties or seventies. This is simply untrue, life can change at any given moment, good or bad. I hope people who are this severely depressed have people watching out for them and are able to get the help they need.
I will not go further into detail on my personal thoughts on the story of this game. As a game I do not recommend Actual Sunlight. It’s short, bleak, has no gameplay elements and is not worth the price-tag of $5.