This successful Kickstarter project sees an unfolding revolution in fictional 1970s South America. A housekeeper, Angela Burnes gets a birds-eye view of the violent uprising from the top-floor penthouse of her client Gabriel Ortega. This February preview build gave us a small glimpse into the world of Sunset, taking place over three nights within the game’s storyline — one night each, at the beginning, middle and near the end of the story.
Our first glimpse of Angela is in the soft reflection she projects on the metal door frame of the elevator she rides to Ortega’s penthouse. Her agenda for the evening is showcased on the right side of the screen: empty ash trays and clean the desk. Her inner monologue plays (and is recorded in an accessible diary), and we begin to learn about the uprising. It is early, small explosions and turmoil have begun to infiltrate the city, but as we enter the penthouse any concerns are momentarily pushed a way as we follow a soft operatic voice to the first floor patio and garden where a record plays.
Here the flowing colors of a rapidly setting sun breach the large overhead skylight, raining down on the water feature below and a fire burns brightly in a nearby fireplace — it is noted that a fire, though a source of warmth and comfort can also be a means of destruction. These sort of touches instantly remind us that in this beautifully, minimalist, art-deco styled world we are moments away from danger, glimpsed from the balcony of a high-rise penthouse, or perhaps, more subtly through the contents of the dwelling itself.
Passing again by the wet bar towards the balcony, Angela scratches off one of the items on her to-do list by cleaning up the ash-trays. As she does so, our screen cuts to a shot of the city at dusk and times passes more quickly. This is the key function of the game. Each night provides Angela with an hour to complete her tasks, however there is often more to see and do, even in this brief preview build. Returning from the still of the city, the light has further dwindled – brilliant pink, peach and orange tones are overtaken by the purples of approaching dusk.
We know from Angela’s opening monologue that she is much more than a housekeeper; she has a history as a political activist. When moving into the office to clean the desk, she notices important documents on Gabriel’s desk, and here the choices begin. Does she simply place the documents in the briefcase and clean, or do so and add a note offering help? In the distance a smoke plume rises from a lone building – a small taste of the fires of revolution just beginning to burn. Eventually the hour is up and we jump forward to Christmas Day of the same year (1972).
Things are clearly different now. Angela’s words let us know that Gabriel is firmly a part of the revolution against the government. Is she involved, or has she simply gained this information from things she has picked up during her weekly visits to the Penthouse? The view from atop the world has changed as ashes rain from the sky like soft snow and the visibility is cut by the haze of constant fires. The rumble of gunfire and explosions are consistent in the distance. As she approaches the window a military helicopter rises above the railing and pauses as if searching for something.
In our second night of the preview some areas of the penthouse are now closed off, whereas certain sections that were once closed are open for searching. The suite has become filled with various boxes and pieces of art. It’s suggested that Gabriel is doing his best to save the history of the city amid the chaos. But what else could be going on here? A makeshift cot is being used as a bed on the upper floor. A lovely living area pond is now boarded up and many of the boxes throughout the loft are unmarked.
If we have any doubt as to Angela or Gabriel’s intentions in regards to the revolution, they seem to be laid to rest as the third day of preview begins. But… we’ll leave that up to the players to discover. Sunset certainly does an excellent job of establishing intrigue in this mini-preview. The graphics are fairly bare-bones and I’m not sure how much of an upgrade this small title will receive in that department when it comes time for launch. Angela has a few set tasks — how much those tasks play into the how the game changes are unclear, however the choices she makes with regards to getting involved obviously will. Amongst the obvious tasks there are also various notes that Gabriel leaves throughout the house, which she can respond to. IF this changes their relationship or the story is unclear, but I’m willing to bet it has an impact.
The focus is on the narrative setup through, the mood, music, dialog and the distant sounds of increasing chaos. The music in particular, helps to set the tone – which is one of contrasts. This beautiful penthouse and the lovely operatic or folksy tones from the record player are set against the backdrop of incoming disaster. This is an early build, so there are issues with collisions, the occasional texture problem and a bit of stuttering here and there, but that’s all common for these types of builds. The preview successfully sets the stage for what we should expect from the game and we’re looking forward to it. The Revolution is coming and it begins at Sunset.
Preview build provided by Tale of Tales. Pre-order available here. Game set for release Spring 2015.