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Have You Played... Sunset?

Can housekeeping be atmospheric?

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I really wanted to love Tale of Tales’ borderline uncategorisable experience that is and was Sunset, more so after the hubbub surrounding their eventual departure from the industry (they gave up making games after selling only a few thousand copies of this one). The team had become known for unusual, thought-provoking experiences like Bientôt l’été, The Path and The Graveyard, so playing as a house cleaner (a job title I have also held) during a politically charged time, in a beautiful, if shady looking, high-rise sounded like the kind of atmospheric character study I could get into. And I wanted to, I really did.

After playing it, however, I had to settle for simply liking it, which isn’t nearly as bad as what other people felt about it, it seems.

Truthfully, I preferred the surreal, almost ethereal ambiance of something like Bientôt l’été. A co-op game, that may or may not be a dating sim in disguise. It had no rigid structure or strict story to speak of when compared to Sunset, which was Tale of Tales’ attempt to reach a broader audience.

Tasks and challenges, to be completed within a limited time frame, added an intriguing commentary and perspective, that I will say. It was beautiful to look at, too. But ultimately something about Sunset seemed hollow… maybe it was those years I, too, spent scrubbing actual floors in someone’s house other than my own. Once you’ve done that, it’s awfully hard to see the intrigue in fussing about with hospital corners and sweeping out the stash of peanut shells from under someone’s Easy Chair.

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Noa Smith

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Former video person for the Rock Paper Shotgun YouTube channel! Likes video game music and the term 'mediated' a little too much.

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