Take a walk on the thin line between hope and despair in Actual Sunlight: A short interactive story about love, depression and the corporation.
User reviews: Very Positive (213 reviews)
Release Date: Apr 3, 2014
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Recommended By Curators

"Showed at PAX East 2014 - This is one of the most powerful interactive stories concerning mental illness available. Excellent narrative design."
Read the full review here.

Reviews

“The Biggest Challenge In This Game Is Preventing Your Character From Committing Suicide”
Kotaku

“Actual Sunlight Is The Hardest Hitting Game About Depression I’ve Ever Played”
Indiestatik

“Actual Sunlight is a brutal depiction of a man’s life self-destructing, and it’s a game whose central character can only find hope in his own death.”
Rock, Paper, Shotgun

About This Game

“I know what you’re thinking: Why keep getting up, day in and day out, even though your life is going nowhere?”

Notorious: Widely considered to be one of the bleakest and best-written experiences in indie gaming, Actual Sunlight challenges you to confront the life of Evan Winter: An overweight, lonely and severely depressed young professional.

Fear the words, not the reading: Presented almost entirely in text, a mixture of sharp observation and pitch black humor captures your interest from provocative beginning to shattering conclusion.

Prepare yourself: Actual Sunlight is a uniquely unforgettable adventure that will etch itself into you as one of the most difficult, haunting and beautiful experiences you have ever had as a gamer.

Key Features


  • An intense, heartbreaking story with themes of video game addiction, unsatisfying work and miserable solitude.
  • Beautiful, original pixel and CG artwork invokes the streets, offices and sanctuaries of Toronto, Canada.
  • Dark and moody original music sets a proper tone for the brutal indifference of real life.

Important Notice


Due to explicit language, Actual Sunlight is not appropriate for players under the age of 18.

It also deals with extremely mature themes, including depression and thoughts of suicide. Similar to other forms of art that tackle these issues, Actual Sunlight can be an extremely powerful emotional experience – before downloading it, please first consider what your reaction to a book, film or piece of music in a similar vein might be.

For immediate updates on the game, please follow Will O'Neill on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/willoneill

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 98, XP, Vista, 7
    • Processor: Intel Pentium III 800 MHz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 1024x768 High Color +
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
Helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 29
Actual Sunlight is the story of a man named Evan Winter, a man who is coming to terms with depression. It is not a game for the faint of heart, but in its dialogue and dramatic scenes lies a tale of understandable sorrow. The sorrow of never quite knowing one's self or one's worth is a burden that can truly drive one to the brink, and for Evan, the brink is always on his horizon. Dreaming of a better life with a better job, better coworkers, better relationships, and better hobbies eventually cuts into Evan's comprehension of reality and what it means to truly be alive. In this narrative, the player and Evan will discover what life is, its meaning, and what it is to have the power to overcome the obstacles one faces with that knowledge. Sometimes the knowledge, the freedom from the surrounding obstacles, comes at a terrible price; but Evan, trapped in a world of constant fluorescence, truly, honestly, and simply wants the feeling of Actual Sunlight.
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7 of 8 people (88%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 9
It's hard to know say a straight forward Yes or No when it comes to Actual Sunlight and reccomending it to other people.

For those that suffer from depression, I can see this game reflecting what they might be thinking and feeling in their darkest moments. There's a raw reality, sadly, in the unavoidable conclusion of this game. Some might appreciate this, but this is definitely a marmite scenario because I'm not sure if you should play this game when you are depressed or at a very low point. Reaffirming what your most negative thoughts are about yourself, does not seem like a wise thing to do and this game does not offer much hope, just affirmation.

The game itself in terms of mechanics is more of an interactive story, whereby you have little sway on the outcome. It's a basic style, done in RPGMaker and the creator has put effort in where he can with little touches and the dialogue. That said this game is dialogue heavy. The narration screen which projects the thoughts of the lead character is what you'll see more than the environment.

This is not a bad game, it's simple, it comes from a powerful and real place, but I think that I would not reccommend it, based on my own conflicts with being stuck in depressive ruts. That's not to say it's awful at all.

I wrote a piece about how it's ok to not play depression based games, when you are depressed or going through stages of depression, which might explain my personal thoughts (though I could say much more).

http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/GlowBear/it-s-ok-not-to-play-depression-games-279830.phtml/
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0 of 1 people (0%) found this review helpful
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 6
Life is hard, and it will pierce through your "privileges" no matter how white you are.

(5 bucks, but still cheaper than Depression Quest - Which is free.)
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1 of 5 people (20%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 24
Ouch.
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1 of 8 people (13%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 27
Might I say that "I uninstalled actual sunlight." sounds like a very depressing gamerpun?
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1.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
As a deppressivem person, I can say that this is the best telling of depression I have ever seen on any medium.

Though, a word of warning: this story basically says that if you are like the main character by the age of 30-ish, all hope is lost. That's simply not true. It may be harder to change your career, especially if you've already begun to climb the ladder, so to speak, but depression is something that can be fought and challeged at every stage in life, not just the begining of adulthood.
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1.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
Actual sunlight plays as more of an interactive novel than a game of the traditional sense, and thats one thing you have to bear in mind before purchase. Another is that the game is not in any way fun, I can only fecomend it to anyone who knows someone with depression, interested in the illness or the depressed themeslves, and even then, the latter need to be prepared for many triggers and a rough ride. Throgh the lead characters perspective, the story is painfully accurate and holds nothing back to lift the dreadful tone. Its a strong point to consider that this is an utterly depressing and hopeless narrative, but also give the oppurtunity for depressed players to see another perspective of the illness outside of thier own. I cannot recommend this to those who are suicidal, if you are, please seek help through a trusted friend or relative or the suicide prevention line. The game as a whole does a fine job not only telling a story, but also spreading awareness of depressions grim reality, and a testament to videogames as art.

PROS:
heartwrenching narrative
unrelentingly honest
soundtrack is always approriate

CONS:
little interaraction outside story progression.

8/10

*This was written from a reviewing standpoint, but I suffer with depression and this game means a lot to me personally.
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17.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 27
This is one of those games that's a book. It's an hour and a bit story about depression.

I found the narrative smart, relatable, and as a consequence rather painful to read. It's a compelling and beautiful telling that deserves to read.
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1.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
A nice little story about love, and severe depression. Text based part was sort of annoying, but the overall story was a masterpeice.
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2.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 16
Game is too short, reminds me of the Stanley Parable, only about actual life, not video games. Kind of annoyed that I couldn't kill myself sooner. The corporate bit was amazingly good. Could have used a lot more of all of it.

Anyway, good stuff.
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1.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 17
I know what it is like suffering this way because I have depression myself. It isn't always as bad as the game displays it but it goes in to great detail as to what life is like with depression. I recommend the game to anyone who has a friend who suffers depression.
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1.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 17
This isn't even a game. It's a vacation slideshow of one mans trip to hell. While I can sympathize with a lot of the sentiments expressed by the main character, he really just comes off as more of an entitled jerk, pontificating about all of the (first) worlds societal ills.

Don't have much of a social life, feel you are surrounded by shallow people, and have a meaningless dead end job? Kill yourself. Good job, you beat the game.

Then again, maybe the way you feel is entirely under your control, and no one else is responsible. What I think is that if this guy had put this game out and then did kill himself, then I would have given his ramblings the weight of conviction if nothing else. If not, (and I didn't bother to check) then I file this under 'wallowing in, um, some sort of wallowing area, all dirty and such'. Self loathing, self pity, self whatever, the common thing there is 'self'. It's your life, your choice, and I'll leave you to it.
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1.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 9
This is probably the most acerbic game I've come across on Steam. I'm so glad it's here. Extremely short, cripplingly desperate and angry.
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1.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 14
I like knowing how people tick (psychology basically) and I got a coupon for this game from crafting a badge. It's the combination of these two things that made me buy this game. You're going to have to have similar or related tastes to play this game; otherwise, why play a game about a main character suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts.

There is no gameplay either. You hit 'Z' to interact with objects and people and 'X' to save or quit the game. The entire "game" is a narrative. There is no choice or anything, you just do, which is fitting with the main points of the plot.

In any case, you HAVE to find human nature interesting to sit through this game. I'll give this a thumbs up because the game did what it was said to do. You can't mark it down for being depressing or having no significant gameplay, because that's expeced.
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1.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 9
A poignant story of depression and lonliness, with intelligent dialogue, a realistic set of characters, and beautiful music. It does such an amazing job of capturing the very real nature of depression that those who suffer from it feel, while still informing you that this is what COULD be, not what IS, and we should do what we can now, in our youth, while we still have the chance. I highly suggest that everyone play this and experience it, especially before judgin those who suffer from it. If there were one thing I could nit-pick, it'd be the lenght, but with how incredible this game is, and the impact it will leave you, this isn't that large a problem
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10 of 10 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.3 hrs on record
Posted: June 21
Before I begin (and you buy/play it) keep this in mind: This is not a normal game. It is an interactive text-based story.

The gameplay is a very little exploration (but if you aren't interest you can go straight to the objective), walking from one place to another. The music and sound effects are ok and the graphics is good, it was made in RPG Maker Ace, so you can have an idea about it.

The deep, dark and sad (and maybe dangerous) story is presented in many text screens, but very well organized and written. You will want to know more and more as you play it.

It has a short story, about 1 to 1,5 hours of gameplay, and I was pretty surprised in the end. That's all I can say without ruin your experience.

If you have some depression problem or your life is not ok, you should prepare yourself before play it.
If you are ok in those areas, it's definitely worth try this title.
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12 of 14 people (86%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 29
Not a bad game. Quite depressing though especially since it conveys a very raw set of emotions.

The artwork is nice and I commend the guy who drew all the characters.

Seriously though, consoles are for lamers. Your life went downhill the moment you got rid of your awesome PC.
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5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: July 13
I have mixed feelings about this game. Well, this is not really a game, more like an interactive story. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who's suffering from depression, so yes, beware of trigger. The storyline is very depressing and it will probably make you feel more helpless and hopeless as the story progresses on.

+ Powerful progression of story. It tells you why the character felt what he did and how the world crumbled around him.
+ Gives you an inkling to what suicidal thoughts would do to a person.
+ It will give you some points to ponder.

- Very, very, very text heavy. If you don't like reading, don't buy this game.
- Absolutely no replay value (though I'm unsure why anyone would want to go through the story twice).
- Only an hour plus long (though it certainly feels longer than that).

The developer has a (bleak) message to send through to his audiences. And I think he did a great job at that.
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6 of 7 people (86%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: July 25
This is a truly deep and emotional journey, no sugar-coating or anything, this game is really blunt and honest.
i can truly relate to many things here, i always feel life has passed me, i thought about suicide many times, went through depression many many times. if you ever had doubts, suffered any emotional troubles, went through depression...etc.
then you should give this game a try and i can assure you that you will relate to many things here.

highly recommended of course and hats off to the developer for this strong, brutally honest and deep experience <3
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 30
Interesting game. I'm not quite sure I will ever relate to that complete hopelessness that ends with suicide, but maybe the point of the game isnt for you to relate, but rather to have a better understanding for what some people feel? Dunno. I do know that people feel the weight of society heavily, and it does affect some people like this.
Anyway, I thought the disclaimers at the beginning were appropriate, I thought the writing was pretty stellar, and althoguh the subject matter is heavy and a bit heavy handed, I think it was effective at, at the very least, bringing about some degree of contemplation from the people who play it. Plus, there was humor interjected in the writing, sardonic as it was.

Took about an hour to complete, so it isnt so much of a time commitment.
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