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Choices: And The Sun Went Out

by Tin Man Games: KG Tan, Alyce Potter, and Felicity Banks profile

Episode 1 of Choices That Matter
Science Fiction
2015

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Number of Reviews: 1
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A long but imperfect adventure, August 29, 2020
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
I've been playing "Choices: And the Sun Went Out" for several hours, having just finished the fourth 'story arc', and I don't think I'm anywhere near the end yet. That assessment is partly based on descriptions of the piece as containing 600k words, of which you'll apparently see 150k on any one playthrough; and it's partly based on the story I have experienced, which, frankly, hasn't gone anywhere yet.

Or rather, it has gone everywhere. It has gone to Canada, to Peru, and now to Japan. A lot has happened along the way: murders, shootouts, car chases, confrontations of secret cabals of scientists, human sacrifices, attempted kidnappings, frantic attempts to save an entire town from natural disaster, and more. But I am no closer to understanding anything about the game's central mystery (the fact that sun sometimes 'goes out'); rather, every story arc has given me some new 'leads' to pursue, sending me packing to yet another country where more action can happen. Emily Short called the prose of the game "urgent and weightless"; and it seems fair to apply that to its entire approach to story telling.

I was bored by the game's first two story arcs, but things got a little better when I came to Peru, where the writing picked up some personality and the NPCs were slightly more interesting. Still, we never move far past some rather trite set pieces for an investigative action-mystery; one goes to Peru, and lo and behold, there will be human sacrifice in an ancient but unknown Inca temple!

Furthermore, the story seems to be constrained more by what is convenient for the writers than by any sense of plausibility: if you need to be shipped off to Peru, then this tiny Canadian town turns out to have an international airport with direct flights to that country. If one of your enemies tries to abduct a friend and force her, at gunpoint, to board a commercial passenger air plane, then helpful local custom officials prevent this by planting some drugs in your friend's luggage. I think.

There are many paths through the game, it seems, and your choices about where to go appear to have serious consequences in terms of which content you will experience. But I find this a dubious blessing. Rarely have you any idea of what the effect of your choices will be. So what's the point of choosing, and what's the point of all the content I'm not seeing? One could say: replayability. But I would only replay a game like this if its world and story were truly intriguing, and replaying might allow me to achieve deeper and deeper understanding of something genuinely interesting. "Choices: And the Sun Went Out" is far too breezy and generic to inspire that wish.

It's competent, and I've had some fun, so I'm giving it 3 stars.