Sunday Gold Review – Quick High Stakes Crime Spree (PC)

Sunday Gold expertly blends turn-based combat and point-and-click adventuring together in a high stakes crime story. Unfortunately, its ambitious formula is betrayed by the game’s short length, and there are some bugs that can derail the otherwise enjoyable experience.

Sunday Gold Review - Quick High Stakes Crime Spree (PC)

Point-and-click adventures are a fun experience, but you don’t get a chance to put yourself into the action other than solving puzzles. Sunday Gold puts you in the hot seat by putting a sense of urgency on your puzzle-solving. Players will have to anticipate combat while solving puzzles, adding a new layer of enjoyment to the point-and-click formula.

Unfortunately, Sunday Gold’s adventure ends before you can appreciate the mechanics and crime planning. The story also has a few sub-plots that aren’t fully explored, or are pushed aside in favour of the main plot. There are also some bugs that can derail the experience, ranging from annoying to game-crashing. Despite some missteps, Sunday Gold offers a new experience that fans of the point-and-click genre will definitely enjoy.

Sunday Gold is currently available on PC.

Story – Simple Beginnings, Unexpected Adventure

Sunday Gold introduces you to Frank Barber, a criminal who robs the rich in a dystopian future London. Down on his luck and nearing a repayment deadline, he needs a new big score if he wants to avoid trouble. Working with long-time associate Sally Wheeler and new ally Gavin Dorsey, Frank finds himself on an adventure where the stakes rise rapidly.

Morality and ethics take a backseat in this story; there isn’t much that you could clearly define as “morally good”. As the adventure continues, the trio find themselves uncovering a large secret that will shake not just London, but the world. But you never forget that everyone has their own agenda and they participate for their own reasons.

A classy look, but you know he's a criminal.

A classy look, but you know he’s a criminal.

While Frank and his team are still criminals, they take on the roles of the protagonists. But they aren’t conventional heroes, as one might expect. You never forget that Frank is looking for money, or that Gavin hates his former employer. It’s not unusual for point-and-click adventure heroes to be doing unlawful actions for the sake of the greater good. It is refreshing to see a cast that only cares about the outcome, doing whatever they can to achieve it.

As the story progresses and the stakes begin to rise, only the main plot gets any resolution,. The game also raises more questions than it answers, while concluding the game assuming that everything is alright. The game’s length is not unusual for a point-and-click adventure, but it feels insufficient because there are unanswered questions. You feel like the game was just getting ready for a sequel, rather than wrapping up a story’s loose ends.

Gameplay – Solving Puzzles & Fighting Security

You are criminals committing crimes in an area where access is forbidden. These areas have high amounts of security, which are constantly patrolling. The longer you remain in an area, the more likely it is that security finds your team. Your puzzle-solving will be interrupted by battles, wearing you down as you continue towards your objective.

All of your characters have Action Points (AP), which indicate what actions they can perform in a single turn. This is true for puzzle-solving and combat. Everyone gets a certain amount of AP which is spent depending on the actions and skills involved. When everyone runs out of AP, you end the turn to refill their supply. Security gets a chance to respond, either stepping up security or missing you entirely. They can also find you, which leads to a battle.

Many battles end with enemies on the floor.

Many battles end with enemies on the floor.

Introducing AP into the point-and-click adventure is one of Sunday Gold’s strongest points. It does a great job making you feel the pressure, the feeling that it’s a race against the clock. You will decry actions that waste your AP and think carefully before you make your move. Monitoring your team’s health is important too, because they will get worn down from multiple battles. When your team is weak and the solution continues to evade you, that’s when you feel the pressure of being a criminal.

It’s not just the physical state of your team that you have to worry about; panic is a big factor as well. Sunday Gold introduces Composure, which affects the sanity of your party. Whether they find something sufficiently creepy or feel fear during a fight, losing Composure has real effects. Combat effectiveness goes down and puzzle solving becomes harder, among other things. Composure is a great mechanic to work with, even if it can be frustrating at first. It really drives home the point that things can and do go wrong, and you don’t want to be in dangerous places too long.

Puzzles – Creative Problem Solving Cut Short

The puzzles aren’t too difficult to solve either, and you must think creatively to find the answer. There will always be clues strewn around the area, but they are rarely obvious. You have to put some thinking in, but it fits with the theme of being a criminal. Nothing is ever going to be easy for you, but it feels good when you stay one step ahead of the guards.

There are also situations where you can dictate what plan you want to use to continue your infiltration. This affects the puzzles you perform as you stick to the plan, and gives you some control over a mission’s progress. Being able to choose your plans is fun, because you can choose what type of criminal approach fits your preferences. Do you want to be low-key and secretive, or bust the doors down with guns blazing? There’s a puzzle for your personal approach, which makes your criminal experience more personalized.

Puzzles are tricky, but there are clues to the answer.

Puzzles are tricky, but there are clues to the answer.

Unfortunately, the game’s short length rears its head again with the puzzles. There aren’t many opportunities to pick your methods or utilize everyone’s skills frequently. While all adventures come to an end, you feel that there could have been more crimes or tasks to solve.

You must also save frequently, as you never know when solving a puzzle could lead to a bug or a crash. The game has convenient auto saves which prevent you from losing too much progress, but it can be annoying to restart due to a crash/bug.

Combat – Using What You Find

While you can avoid a good chunk of combat by completing puzzles efficiently, you can’t avoid all battles. Turn-based combat is similar to Video Game Fables and Wildermyth, where your turns are decided by an Initiative stat and everyone takes turns one at a time.

Unlike other games that use turn-based combat, you don’t get to buy equipment. Your weapons and gear are based on what you can find in the areas you explore. Thankfully, the places you are going to have powerful equipment lying around for you to pick up. You must be looking out for these opportunities and checking as many places as possible, as a criminal would.

You need to pay attention to many factors during combat.

You need to pay attention to many factors during combat.

Each character has unique abilities that they develop when leveling up. These help them perform better with their weapon of choice or give them new options in combat. You get 2 skill points every time you level up, but you only get 18 to work with and must choose carefully. Fortunately, you can reset everyone’s skill points at the end of a chapter if you aren’t happy with the allocation.

The reset doesn’t matter much, as there aren’t enough chapters in the game for the reset to be worthwhile. You would usually have to know or guess what’s in advance (such as mechanical enemies becoming more frequent). By the time you do have a handle on how you will fight, or what abilities are useful, the game ends. You are better off specializing in a few skills rather than doing an even spread, because testing will require multiple playthroughs.

Audio & Visuals – Comic Book Visuals With Soft Audio

Sunday Gold is filled with expressive comic book style images that help each character come alive. It blends perfectly with the dreary, cold, and sometimes mechanical atmosphere. A character’s facial expression can be clearly seen, and the emotion is perfectly conveyed to a player. You never doubt when someone is angry, sarcastic, or panicked, because the voice and expression say it all.

The audio is also a key factor, as you are criminals breaking into forbidden areas. There’s no ambient music playing loudly (except at a bar you use between missions), it is soft but present. When fighting, the music ramps up to match the tension. The soundtrack matches the feeling you would have when you are caught by surprise. Voice acting is done well, with the characters matching the expressions they are feeling apart from some slightly softened voices.

You can see and hear how a character is feeling at all times.

You can see and hear how a character is feeling at all times.

Unfortunately, the bugs can disrupt the audio/visual experience as well. It’s not uncommon to have sound become choppy after a scene, or the environment turning black when you switch locations. While there are quick fixes (like reloading a game), it does create a notable disruption of the immersion.

Sunday Gold was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by Team17.

Sunday Gold has a fantastic blend of turn-based combat and point-and-click adventuring. The story is set up well, puzzles are fun to go through, and you really feel the pressures of criminal activity. The game does end by the time you get a grasp on the gameplay, and you are often left feeling like there could have been more. There are also enough bugs and crashes that stand out when the immersion is disrupted too many times. But for the time you are playing Sunday Gold, you are a criminal expert running against the clock, and it’s a fun thrill to experience.
  • Great blend of turn-based combat and point-and-click adventuring
  • Visuals are expressive and reflective of the environment
  • Immersive experience makes you feel like a criminal
  • Short game length makes you want more
  • Bugs and crashes are occasionally found
  • Not enough opportunities to play with skills or choose plans

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