Sunset by Storysinger is a short browser game that explores the feelings of nervousness and loneliness leading up to finalizing a divorce. Follow Kay, a successful researcher, as she tries to make sense of her emotions.
A review was requested for this game through the VN Game Den Review Request Form.
Sunset is unlike most visual novels that we’ve come to know and love. That’s because it was made using Twine, an engine for creating interactive fiction. There are no character sprites, elaborate backgrounds, or even a textbox. In order to advance the story, you must click on bolded text.
The text appears on screen, sometimes on a solid color background and other times next to a minimalist drawing of an item being mentioned in the story, such as a chair where Kay’s coat hangs or the pen that she holds in her hand.
These images create a sense of the space that Kay finds herself in, but they don’t force the player to envision a specific experience. Are there paintings on the wall of your office? Do you have pink bed sheets and orange curtains? It doesn’t matter.
Rather, the focus is on the feelings that Kay has as she navigates the events before and during the signing of the divorce papers. There is a profound loneliness, even as Kay talks to other people, because we don’t see them on screen. We don’t hear their voices or see their expressions, but we know they are there.
These moments are reminiscent of our lives outside of the game. Kay is successful in her job, and she has friends who care about her and her well-being. Yet, we see cracks in the surface as she sits at the coffee shop with feelings of apprehension, or lays in her bed contemplating how things have gone wrong.
The story feels wholly human and real in these aspects. It leaves the player asking themselves, how can one be so happy and yet still so empty?
Furthering the player experience of Sunset, there are tracks of ambient music that act to enhance the player’s feelings. Intense music plays when Kay’s feelings become overwhelming for her; a more mundane track is played as she goes through her daily tasks.
All in all, the different aspects of the game work in tandem with each other to create an engaging experience.
That’s not to say that Sunset is the perfect experience. It is short—too short. Just when Kay begins to confront her feelings, the story ends. There is not enough time spent on Kay’s feelings, which are arguably the most interesting part of the whole story.
Sunset is actually a fantasy story. Kay is a researcher at a magic corporation that utilizes gems to do certain tasks. This is a wildly fascinating concept, but there just isn’t enough time to explore it in Sunset. I felt as if the fantastical elements were distracting from the main theme.
Would I recommend playing Sunset? Most definitely. If you have a half hour to spare and enjoy the genre, Sunset does a lot of things worth checking out.
Sunset is a browser game that you can play for free on itch.io.