Disclaimer: This review of Sunlight was written using a code given to us by the game’s PR team. This does not affect my judgment of the game and is explained for the purposes of transparency.
Some video games exist for a purpose other than entertaining. Some games such as Nintendo Labo educate people, teaching skills that can be used throughout life. But Sunlight exists for the purposes of being an almost meditative experience. When you first see the game, it would be very easy to write it off as simply a walking-simulator. But it is much more than that.
Sunlight does not really have a story, per se. As I said the game is a meditative experience, and the story is not the main focus. As you walk through the forest, you will hear a range of voices. Each will tell you different things. Some will remind you to take a breath, while will talk in a calming voice. Again though, this is very much not a game you play for the story. You are playing Sunlight as a relaxing experience.
As someone who lives with depression, this was a strangely nice experience. Some part of me was always waiting for some complex storyline to kick in, as silly as that may sound. Even with that, my brain was still able to switch off for half an hour. And that is something that, personally, I feel is near impossible to achieve on my own. Sunlight is a guided meditation, in video game form. A calming stroll through the forest, helping you to ground yourself.
The art-style of the game is simply amazing. Everything in the game was hand-drawn, in VR, using a programme called Quill. This results in an environment like one I have never seen myself. The sounds of the game perfectly match the calming tone of Sunlight’s purpose. The forest is peaceful, and the voices are very soothing.
If this review seems rather short, that’s because in all honesty Sunlight is very hard to review. I expected to be playing a game, albeit a calming one. I’ve spent literal weeks overthinking my experience. Looking for some underlying story that I missed. But, when all is said and done, Sunlight isn’t a game as we know it. I’ve seen reviews of the game talking about replayability, but honestly, I don’t feel that has a place in this particular case. If you’re thinking of grabbing it for a good walking-sim, I would advise against it. It’s much more than that. But if you want something you can throw on when you’re having a shit day. Something you can unwind with, and maybe even check in on yourself with, Sunlight is definitely the way to go.