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:
Overall:
Very Positive (322 reviews) - 81% of the 322 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Apr 3, 2014

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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
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
Customer reviews
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Overall:
Very Positive (322 reviews)
Recently Posted
Jarobi
( 1.4 hrs on record )
Posted: July 19
A trully touching experience.
As someone with many friends who suffer from depression, this game was hard to play, but I am glad I did. It gives insight into the downward spiral that people can fall into. Highly recommended for anyone who is has been impacted, either directly or indirectly, from depression. And really, who hasn't?
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Jan Arthur
( 1.9 hrs on record )
Posted: July 18
A short visual novel made in RPG Maker. Worth playing for the story, the writing is not the best, it could do with some editing. But overall an interesting tale about an "unlikable" character caught up in depression.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
{FP$}Alexeyka
( 3.3 hrs on record )
Posted: July 17
To developer: Have you ever tried to stop whine about your problems like a 8-years and try actually deal with them? And let me tell you: trying to force your negative emotions on others isn't the best way to make friends.
To customer: not recomended. You will just waste your time and money, and ruin your mood in the process. Whenwhere you wish to enter the state of deppresion OR find a cure from it, i highly suggest you to play the "Everlasting summer". It much more superior, well-written and emotional game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Mal
( 2.1 hrs on record )
Posted: July 12
Pretentious and adverb dense prose that champions the exact failings it is railing against.

No real branching. No replay value.

This is another one of those "games" that is best appreciated for the quick achievement and 100% completion and nothing more.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Nerf
( 2.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 9
A short interactive RPG maker narrative that makes you think about one thing or another.
As the protagonist is essentially an average every day male, it was confronting for me.
The writing was definitely, sadly relatable.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
木田
( 3.9 hrs on record )
Posted: July 5
If you seek an interesting gameplay, storyline, descision makes like virtual novel, don't buy this game.

Even though I'm not a Male, and haven't have a working experience. I found myself in the game character, Evan Winter. I guess this applied to all people who struggling with Depression wherever they are, and as it's said this is not a game, this is a potrait.

This is not a virtual novel, you can't make too much descision, its a linear route with mostly deep narative about the Character and his other character inside his head. The character Evan Winter is someone who suffers super greatly from Depression and nearly on losing all the hope, everything just wrong, and no one care about him anyway. He do what he dislike, just trying to get a hold on his life, wishing everything will be okay one day.

In my life at least until I found that I suffers greatly from Depression, most of people around me was like "no, its just your imagination" , "you're just tired." "you need to pray to God" ,etc... Hell no... you don't know how its feels like to fighing with yourself again and again and again, and if others ask...I just can't describe it and in the end all I'm saying just " I don't know"

If you ever had someone you loves, your friend, your family, or someone who dear to you suffers from Depression, I really really recommend you to buy this game. Probably the problems not the same, but at least try to understand the feelings, try to understand what they've being through. As someone who struggling too I could say that its rough, tiring , and troublesome for someone who didn't understand how it feels to accompanied someone who suffers Depression, but if that person important to you, do your best to be by their side and supports them.

Probably usually you won't take a long time to finish this game, but around 1 hour will be enough to really understand the creator's messages.

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Kind Deception
( 2.9 hrs on record )
Posted: June 14
I received a coupon for this game, after reading the description I decided to buy it and play it for one of those days. The story was short and felt linear, but it did touch on difficult subjects. It started off with humor and relatable concepts, that began subtle then revealed for what it was towards the end. The majority of it is reading transcripts of what the protagonist has done with some interaction with his coworkers and people in his life. The protagonist's relationship with his coworkers, how they view themselves and how he views himself through them were a central focus to the narrative.

It was described to be profound, a deep narrative on the troubles of depression. While it did provide the struggles, the things we often tell ourselves "I'll start tomorrow", it was one person's experience. An experience to say, don't let it consume you because by the time you realize it was not worth troubling yourself over, it will be too late. There are more concepts I wish this story did deal with rather than forward time and let it be another day, which is still a concept of itself to how life will seem to move even if you don't.

I recommend this for the messages it has, there is a lot to pull out directly and subjectively with the most important one I believe: if you're still young then don't act like your life is over otherwise your choices will make sure of it.

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LycanGalen
( 2.5 hrs on record )
Posted: June 1
It wasn't until I noticed I needed to clock more time in this game to unlock all the available cards that I realized how much I hated playing this game. The main character was both unbelievably boring and unimaginably irritating and I didn't want to spend more time with him. And that's what makes this game so good, and why you should play it.

It isn't meant to be fun, or happy. It isn't meant to leave you with a sense of accomplishment. This is a game that gives you a virtual experience of what depression can be for some people. This game is hard to play, and I don't mean in a Dark Souls way, I mean in an emotionally draining, exhausting way.

I'd suggest, if/when you play this game, to consider how the game makes you feel. The anger and frustration with the character is completely valid. The boredom is completely valid. Now imagine that instead of those feelings being directed at a game, it's directed at your life. That infuriating character with the dialog that drives you crazy is your own internal dialog. Yep, you absolutely know better than to do the stupid things he keeps doing. Yup, you can see how things are going to unfold from the moment you start playing,and eventually you're rushing though everything just to finish the damn game with the obvious ending. Yup, everything would be better if he would just stop whining for a moment. But he won't. Welcome to what depression is for some people.

What makes this game so good isn't the gameplay. It's how much it makes you dislike it that makes it good. If you have never experienced severe depression, this might give you an idea so you can understand what a friend/family member is experiencing. If you have experienced it, consider this a window into someone else's experience, so you can see how things are similar and completely different all at the same time. But most of all, please don't play this game if you aren't safe right now...take care of yourself. Come back to this when you're in a good place - depression isn't easy at the best of times, and double dipping the depression can't be a good thing.
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Nicholas Dust
( 1.9 hrs on record )
Posted: May 4
Product received for free
I managed to grab a copy of this game for free. I do not remember how, but I did. So I figured it was finally time to dust it off and put it in the virtual CD drive (e.g. load it up on Steam). So I did. And the game was... interesting.

I would not really call this a game at all. It is more of an interactive story. The character in the game is battling a severe case of suicidal depression. The game serves as a window into the character’s life and thoughts, and gives you the option of continuing his “ordinary” daily life. You go to work, you interact with people, you go home. Almost every interaction with an object or person leads to an inner monologue in which the character is recalling some passage he wrote, or a conversation with a therapist, or a television interview. As you progress, the nature of these recollections becomes more and more clear, and you gain further insight into the true mental state of the character.

Throughout the game you are met with the recurring thought of Go up to the roof of the building and jump off. Ordinarily I would not spoil a game in a review, but given the sensitive nature of the ending I believe it best to warn you of what may be coming. That recurring thought becomes more and more prevalent, until it takes over the character’s thoughts and actions. In the end, your “choices” are restricted and regardless of what option you take you find the same end. You are on the roof, and the character’s suicide is implied, but never explicitly stated.

The graphics in the game are typical of an RPGMaker game. Pixellated sprites and environments run abound. However, the game does interject the occasional hand-drawn scene - these scenes definitely do the game justice, capturing the emotion of each character quite well.

All in all this is not a game I would recommend to most people. Only pick this up if you are looking for a game that falls into the “games are art” category, as this serves more as a commentary on what it is like to battle depression.

And it serves that purpose well, having hit home on multiple occasions with my own experiences.
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falitai
( 0.9 hrs on record )
Posted: May 4
I know Actual Sunlight says that it's short. But it's *really* short if you can read quickly.
I really didn't attach to the character at all, and didn't really find any of the statements in it that impactful. It advertises itself as 18+, but so many themes like this are dealt with in young adult fiction (14+ year old). If I hadn't read reviews saying things like "brutal depiction" and "hardest hitting game about depression I've ever played", maybe I'd have had lower expectations and would've enjoyed it more.

It's not *bad* per say, but, I'd recommend waiting for it to be on sale.

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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: July 12
Pretentious and adverb dense prose that champions the exact failings it is railing against.

No real branching. No replay value.

This is another one of those "games" that is best appreciated for the quick achievement and 100% completion and nothing more.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 19
A trully touching experience.
As someone with many friends who suffer from depression, this game was hard to play, but I am glad I did. It gives insight into the downward spiral that people can fall into. Highly recommended for anyone who is has been impacted, either directly or indirectly, from depression. And really, who hasn't?
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
81 of 91 people (89%) found this review helpful
Recommended
13.5 hrs on record
Posted: April 17, 2014
As a person that suffers greatly from depression, this game was highly relatable. Feeling like no one understands you or bothers to even care about your issues. Kind of having deep conversations with yourself, and fighting with yourself. Depression is terrible and I wouldn't wish that on anyone...so to see this kind of scenario actually laid before me in such a well written manner was refreshing..but also saddening. Although I wouldn't handle most of my situations like the main character did, I could still empathize and actually feel care towards the character. In my opinion this game is something everyone should play and give a thought to..even if its only just once. There's a bunch of reading..well its basically an "interactive story", but it was well worth the read.The author makes valid points towards the current state of society, how we treat our fellow man, and things that most people wouldn't publicly say. I honestly hope whoever reads this will pick this game up and see for themselves.

"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." Right..?
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87 of 105 people (83%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 3, 2014
For anyone who has ever suffered through the many stages of depression or felt like the world was crumbling around them while you just sat there and watched. This is the game for you. It's also for the people that have friends going through this.
The game is very text heavy, there is no gameplay as such. It's more an interactive story on social commentary, past events and life as some people know it. It's a work of art. And no, not that 'Dear Esther' kind of art.

It will be different things for different people, but if you relate at all to the subjects this game covers you can expect it to deliver in spades.

Thank you so much for sharing Will O'Neill. :)
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73 of 87 people (84%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
Recommended
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: December 10, 2014
Actual Sunlight is an indie title about depression.

This game contains strong triggers towards thoughts and feelings such as suicide and depression. Please make sure you are in a strong mental well-being before playing this game. I have listed all the suicide hotlines that I know of, they are available below.

You will probably never play a game quite like Actual Sunlight.

The story follows a man named Evan Winter, who is struggling with depression. Straight away you sense that he has lost nearly all hope, and is only hanging on because he hopes it will pass.

Evan’s problems are taking their toll. He works for a company he doesn’t respect, with many employees he doesn’t respect, he is overweight and wants to try and change that, but work is dragging him down. He keeps spending money on video-games when he thinks he is wasting his life. Everything in his life seems to have a problem with it, which leaves him with such a depressed mind that no matter how hard he tries to be optimistic, everything seems to be overwhelming to the point where he can’t see past the bad.

Evan has been given advice from people on how to live his life. About how he should “lighten up,” or how he should look at the world. Things that many depressed people have been told. But it isn’t helping them, because it is a mental issue, so merely changing your perspective on something won’t help because the thing you need to change isn’t an easy issue to fix. Evan will laugh it off or make self-deprecating jokes, or merely try to deny it. But underneath is that little bit of honesty that they really hope you hear, because they are too scared to say it directly.

Actual Sunlight was made with RPGMaker by one man, Will O’Neill. But behind it’s simple graphics is an incredibly powerful story.

This “game” is brutally honest with it’s writing, it’s like being in the head-space of someone or reading their diary, it is SO incredibly personal. But I do think it contains a story that needs to be played by people to truly understand what it is like, at least to the best possible ability. It isn’t a game I would recommend to someone going through depression unless they feel they can 100% handle it. But I do think anyone with a family member, friend or colleague that might have depression, should play this game, so they can truly understand their loved one.

This game isn’t one I can score, because it would be like trying to score someone’s life, someone’s thoughts, someone’s journey, it would almost invalidate everything I have said. But if you have a loved one suffering through depression, take the hour and a half to finish this game and try to understand what they must be going through. It’s a rough journey, but you should be by their side to the best of your ability.

If you need help, please talk to someone or contact your country’s suicide hotline below.

_______________

SUICIDE HOTLINES
Albania: 127
Argentina: (54-11) 4758-2554
Australia: 13 11 14
Austria: 142
Barbados: (246) 4299999
Belgium: 106
Botswana: 3911270
Brazil: +55 51 211 2888
Canada - Greater Vancouver: 604-872-3311
Canada - Toll free-Howe Sound/Sunshine Coast: 18666613311
Canada - TTY: 1-866-872-0113
Canada - BC-wide: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
China: 0800-810-1117
China (Mobile/IP/extension users): 010-8295-1332
Croatia: (01) 4833-888
Cyprus: +357 77 77 72 67
Denmark: +45 70 201 201
Estonia (1): 126
Estonia (2): 127
Estonia (3): 646 6666
Fiji (1): 679 670565
Fiji (2): 679 674364
Finland: 01019-0071
France: (+33) (0)9 51 11 61 30
Germany (1): 0800 1110 111
Germany (2): 0800 1110 222
Germany (youth): 0800 1110 333
Ghana: 233 244 846 701
Greece: (0) 30 210 34 17 164
Hungary: (46) 323 888
India: 2549 7777
Ireland (1): +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90
Ireland (2): +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92
Ireland (3): 1850 60 90 90
Ireland (4): 1850 60 90 91
Israel: 1201
Italy: 199 284 284
Japan (1): 03 5774 0992
Japan (2): 03 3498 0231
Kenya: +254 20 3000378/2051323
Liberia: 06534308
Lithuania: 8-800 2 8888
Malaysia (1): (063) 92850039
Malaysia (2): (063) 92850279
Malaysia (3): (063) 92850049
Malta: 179
Mauritius: (230) 800 93 93
Namibia: (09264) 61-232-221
Netherlands: 0900-0767
New Zealand (1): (09) 522 2999
New Zealand (2): 0800 111 777
Norway: +47 815 33 300
Papua New Guinea: 675 326 0011
Philippines: 02 -896 - 9191
Poland (1): +48 527 00 00
Poland (2): +48 89 92 88
Portugal: (808) 200 204
Samoa: 32000
Serbia: 32000
Singapore: 1800- 221 4444
South Africa: 0861 322 322
Sweden (1): 020 22 00 60
Sweden (2): 020 22 00 70
Switzerland: 143
Thailand: (02) 713-6793
Ukraine: 058
United Kingdom (1): 08457 909090
United Kingdom (2): +44 1603 611311
United Kingdom (3): +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92
United Kingdom (4): 1850 60 90 90
United Kingdom (5): 1850 60 90 91
United States of America: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Zimbabwe (1): (263) 09 65000
Zimbabwe (2): 0800 9102

Disclaimer: This review was written gradually over 6 or so months, if others have voiced their opinions that have been voiced similar to mine over that time that is by coincidence.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
61 of 70 people (87%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 9, 2014
Depression can be incredibly destructive. Some of you know really well how it makes everything worse. You don't enjoy things you liked. You don't want to do anything, it doesn't make any sense to you. In some cases you want to die to run away from your depression.

This game... or an interactive story... is about this.

Don't go to the roof. Life is cool.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
53 of 60 people (88%) found this review helpful
14 people found this review funny
Recommended
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 11, 2015
Jesus Christ. I need to work on my resume. Eat right. Maybe start a blog. Write a novel. Hell, anything but keep moving forward on the same path.

The main character even LOOKS like me.

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46 of 53 people (87%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 16, 2014
I look at Evan Winter, the main character of Actual Sunlight, and that Evan Winter is distinctively me.

Well, not exactly me. I'm not in my late 20s/early 30s. I'm not working a job I neither love nor care for. I'm a college kid from China studing economics here in the States. Oh, and I do cook pretty well, and my obsession with precisely following Ikea's assembly instructions proved to be a bit overwhelming to the few friends I have.

Other than that, it's pretty close. I'm in an alien country, spending money I don't have learning stuff I neither love nor am good at, getting by with passing grades, lying to my parents that everything's fine so they wouldn't completely lose faith in me and their decision of funding my study, and of course, escaping into videogames. I live with four roommates under the same roof who each lives their own lives and barely social at all. I've no idea if I would ever find a job, or even complete this degree. I've gained 40 pounds since I came here, and the mirror image of Evan is not far from myself. Hell, I even have a similar "relationship" like Evan and Tori with my ex, my first date, who I broke up with 4 years ago. And for the past four years, I've been living with my broken promise, which I never told her, that I would make a man out of myself one day and finally face her with confidence, along with dozens of other promises I could not keep.

I've seen my university's counseling service precisely once.

I'm pretty sure I just failed a class I have to pass in order to proceed to a dozen of courses to complete my degree.

I've been keeping a sharp-tipped fruit knife within my arm's reach for the past three days.

I woke up early this morning after 5 hours of medically-enhanced sleep, and I run into Kotaku UK's article "How Video Games Can Help With Depression", in which Actual Sunlight was mentioned. I found a let's-play on YouTube, and two minutes into it, I knew this is a game I need right ♥♥♥♥ing now. Only $5. It's not like I haven't been wasting hundreds of dollars on games already.

Playing through the game took me 1.5 hours. It was 1.5 hours of storming emotions, mixed with pre-coffee, early-morning drowsiness. I completely understood every single word, and every single pulse behind those words. It is the life I've been living for the past four years.

And it feels good to know there're people out there. People out there who really understands.

And, although the game's ending *minor spoiler* is not exactly happy, I feel strangely motivated. It pinned down every negative emotion that's been bombarding me constantly, like scalpels cutting around a gulping tumor, summarizing everything I want to be rid of.

But mostly, it's just nice to know that there're people out there who understands.

And, coming back to it, it wets my eyes that the author put down that one line:

"Don't you ♥♥♥♥ing dare."

So I won't. I'm gonna put up one more fight. I've made choices and I had my consequences, but there's still chance. I'm still depressed, but now I actually feel that I'm not alone, and there are those out there who are still putting up there own fights, and there's no excuses for me to give up my own.

===

I know this is not technically a review, but I'd say this reviews the game better than any actual review and accurately reflects what the player is signing up for.


BTW, I just realized that I unintentionally threw that knife away along with a bunch of litter in a cake box.
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54 of 70 people (77%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 9, 2014
It's hard to 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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41 of 49 people (84%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: April 3, 2014
First of all, this is a mature game. I don't mean mature as too much violence mature. Actual Sunlight tackles a very tough subject. Depression. If you are depressed, don't play this, because it will get you even more depressed. Even if you're not depressed, this game will very likely make you sad if you pay attention to its story.

My hours played do not seem like much here, but I bought this game before it's steam release and played it through, and it was amazing.

Actual Sunlight is probably the most accurate depiction of depression in a game to date. It can hardly be defined as a game, really. It is more of an interactive story. Don't let that stop you though, if you're not depressed, you'd be doing yourself a favour by buying it. I can't go into a too in depth review without giving to much away, but it is about a young man named Evan Winters who is suffering from depression. I believe that a lot of people can relate to what he's going through, even if not depressed.

The game was made with RPG maker, so expect the graphics you see in the screenshots. If you don't like reading too much, you may not want to buy it, but that would be a mistake.

At this price, this is a story worth reading and seeing.

9/10
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