Indie GamePCReviews

Review: Sunday Gold

It isn’t often I get the chance to rank a video game on one of my own personal metrics: Britishness. That is to say, the extent to which a title developed in, or set in, Britain faithfully exudes that uniquely Jolly Jack Tar sensibility; be it from the ruff Norf or the even ruffer Souf. The Stanley Parable, Xenoblade Chronicles and Yooka-Laylee are three recent(ish) favourites of mine that score highly on this scale, with Rare’s Conker’s Bad Fur Day continuing to represent the absolute pinnacle of the field.

Bear in mind that this has absolutely nothing to do with a game’s quality. It’s merely the likelihood that I’ll run into an NPC munching on fish and chips, moaning about the bus schedule or stumbling over his ‘innits’ and ‘owts’. It’s less common than I would like, and I don’t know why; perhaps there’s an inherent aversion in Western markets to setting games on such a depressing little island when you have the Land of the Free available to explore (and with looser gun laws, too).

I bring all this up because Sunday Gold, a new turn-based puzzler developed by BKOM, has given me the opportunity to return to that particular well, being as it is set in a gritty(er) version of London. Oh, sorry: ‘Lahnden’. Combining an intriguing morality system with a fantastic artstyle, this one’s well worth yer time, a’ight luv?

Put on your Sunday clothes

The plot of Sunday Gold is about as standard as they come for this sort of thing. Say it with me, everyone: it’s a post-apocalyptic-except-kind-of-not-really world, and there’s an evil corporate overlord making everyone miserable while a ragtag Resistance is formed to put paid to them. Pulitzer Prize material this ain’t. But that’s okay, because BKOM have managed to paint over this unoriginality with… well, a fantastic coat of paint. Simply put, the game looks lovely, simultaneously evoking the grime of 70s animation and the fluidity of modern, moody arthouse pictures. It’s like if LA Noire, Metropolis, Cool World and the complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle were all tossed into a (very large, very specifically designed) blender together; and boy, was that a matchup I never thought I’d ever conceive of.

Sunday Gold gameplay
Nice of Disney’s Rapunzel to join the uprising.

This extends to the characters, whose misshapen, exaggerated designs make them stick out a mile, which is handy given the generally drab lighting on offer here. In summary, everything happening on screen is absolutely smurges. This is an amazingly accomplished effort from a visual standpoint – but how’s the gameplay? It can perhaps best be described as a cross between a point-and-click adventure game and a turn-based JRPG. Though they may seem like totally disparate genres (and a recent run-in with the abysmal Golfie taught me just how crippling that can be), they do click together fairly well.

RPG (Role-Puzzling Game)

You have your standard RPG battles, of course. You and your opponents pick out moves to whack each other with – depleting both your health and an array of other stats in the process – until one of you emerges victorious. So far, so every-RPG-to-ever-walk-the-Earth. But this is when Sunday Gold tips its hand. Your battle stats carry over into the overworld puzzling segments, with your party unable to interact with particular environmental triggers without having sufficient ‘stress’ or ‘AP’ points, for instance. Aye. It just got real.

Sunday Gold gameplay
I am glad they clarified that the corpse is in fact dismembered. Never could have surmised that.

At the outset, I put my face firmly in my hands and simply asked: “why?”. This felt like such an arbitrary inclusion. Imagine Guybrush Threepwood refusing to bend over and pick up a stick because he felt a wee bit tired. Ever had a video game character actively defy you? It’ll happen a lot here. But as I continued through the variety of heist scenarios the game puts you in, the latent genius of the concept began to show itself. Crucially, Sunday Gold feels built around these limitations. You can always cycle to another party member if you start to run dry, albeit at the risk of kicking off a potentially crippling battle. So if you screw up, it’s always on you. If you play your cards right (and painstakingly manage your party’s minutiae) you’ll always have enough resources to pull through.

Take the high road… or not

BKOM gets positively evil with this at times, with certain choices being placed before you purposely to gnaw away at the OCD you’d otherwise be satisfying in a different adventure title. Sure, you killed that guard; but don’t you want to ransack his corpse and see if he’s got a sweet weapon on him? And so you spend the morality points, but: uh-oh. Tut, tut – you fell for it! All he has is a useless ID card for a door you already passed through. Such cruel twists of the knife are actually quite inspired, and I grew to vibe with Sunday Gold‘s devil-may-care sense of humour.

Sunday Gold gameplay
The odd Laytonesque puzzle helps to break up the flow.

And yes, I won’t withhold it any longer: this is a tremendously British adventure. You’ve got all the rain, trackie bottoms and ‘ey ups’ you could possibly wish for. Lasses with comically huge glasses drink tea and squat in car parks. The musical style calls to mind James Bond engaging in an illicit affair with Ralph Bakshi. You’re never too far from a greasy cafe, or an ugly stooge with a cigarette dangling from his lips. It’s marvelous, and my blackened heart dug it so much it’s halfway to Australia. A 7 or 8 on the Britishness scale, I reckon. Still not Rare though, lads. Sorry.

Final verdict

So that’s the basic skinny. Sunday Gold is unlike any other RPG I’ve attempted, for better and for worse. I can see it being an acquired taste; fans of turn-based games may dislike the puzzle bits. Fans of puzzlers may not be able to stick the inventory management. But if you can quash your preconceptions and tune yourself in to the unique approach BKOM have taken, this is one heckuva ride. Monday Gold next, please.

Sunday Gold is published by Team17, who kindly provided a code for this review. It’s out on October 13th.




Sunday Gold is unlike any other RPG I've attempted, for better and for worse. I can see it being an acquired taste; fans of turn-based games may dislike the puzzle bits. Fans of puzzlers may not be able to stick the inventory management. But if you can quash your preconceptions and tune yourself in to the unique approach BKOM have taken, this is one heckuva ride.

User Rating: 5 ( 1 votes)

Bobby Mills

Motor-mouthed Brit with a decades long - well, two decades, at least - passion for gaming. Writer, filmmaker, avid lover of birthdays. Still remembers the glory days of ONM. May it rest in peace.
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