Sunday Gold, from developer BKOM Studios, is an interesting blend of classic point and click adventure gaming and turn-based RPG mechanics, two genres that are traditionally strong on the PC platform. It’s a PC exclusive release published by Team17 that comes out on October 13 – here are our thoughts.
Although it’s set in a 2070 version of London, Sunday Gold isn’t all that “sci fi” or cyberpunk. Instead, it’s a dystopian take on the city in which you’re a criminal called Frank Barber, hoping to use all that you’ve learned over the years to strike back at the corrupt powers that be. You’re not alone, as you’re joining forces with your friends Sally Wheeler and Gavin Dorsey, whose hacker skills are useful in this take on England’s capital.
The antagonist of the story is Kenny Hogan, a businessman who makes a lot of money through hound racing – a sport in which he owns one of the top racers, Sunday Gold. He’s far from Frank’s best friend, and their history goes way back, making for an interesting cast and narrative premise. Focusing on a trio of criminals is a risky choice though, and we’re guessing plenty of people aren’t going to like the personalities they bring with them – Frank Barber is no Danny Ocean, and the writing and voice acting aren’t endearing.
All the usual point and click conventions are here, from hunting an environment for clues and items to combining them in order to pass a certain situation or puzzle. There’s a tutorial to help guide you during the opening scenes, but adventure gaming veterans should have no trouble adjusting to Sunday Gold. There’s a weird visual effect that we never got used to though, where selecting a destination or action doesn’t trigger an animation but starts off a strange static effect and then shows the action as complete. It feels like a placeholder effect while the real animations are being worked on, but this really is the 1.0 version of the game.
Look past that (although it’s hard), and you’ll find that there’s some nice interplay between the characters as they all have their own special skills – injecting a bit of Lost Vikings into the adventure gaming genre. Sally is the muscle, Gavin knows his way around a computer, while Frank has a life of crime behind him that’s made him an expert at things like lock-picking. Some of the actions you perform play out as mini games too, which are nice little breaks.
What’s interesting is that the adventure game portion is actually turn-based as well, letting you spend action points before ending your turn and starting again – though when there are no enemies in a scene this feels like a strange and unnecessary mechanic. If enemies are there, and you end up confronting one another, combat is triggered, which transforms the gameplay into something more JRPG-like – which is way more challenging than we expected it to be in a hybrid kind of game like this one.
Enemies are generally very strong, and until you level up and/or gain access to more health packs, it’ll regularly feel like running into a wall. And even if you manage to stay alive, you’ll find that damage carries over to your next fight and there’s also a composure meter, which makes your characters panic more and more as they take damage. As someone coming into this game from an adventure gaming background, the harsh difficulty level of the combat certainly took me by surprise.
Despite the main cast being somewhat of a questionable bunch, Sunday Gold is a stylish game with plenty of personality – though much of it is going to be too “in your face” for some. It’s a great idea, but it comes with a few rough edges.