Sunday Gold begins outside of a pub called the Jolly Hangman. It’s off on a little side street in a dystopian, futuristic take on London. The light from the windows of the establishment emit a warm glow which stands out against the dark, rainy night. Neon signs decorate the backdrop of a nearby alleyway, where I can see an imposing, burly figure who appears to be intimidating another poor fellow. As Frank Barber, one of the main criminal protagonists of this upcoming narrative-driven adventure, my first objective is to find a way back into the pub after being kicked out for starting a fight.
With Sunday Gold offering point-and-click-style exploration, there are many different things I can interact with on the street, from a telephone box to a down-and-out man who sits by a makeshift shelter made out of cardboard. A puzzle element comes into play as I try to piece together what I can use in the environment to get past a gate that’s blocking the alleyway. Once I do, I’m faced with another obstacle – that aforementioned burly figure turns out to be Ian, a debt collector who’s none too pleased to see me there. Before I know it, I’m suddenly thrown into my first turn-based battle.
Sunday Gold throws you into a narrative adventure set in the 2070’s that centers around a trio of criminals who decide to take on a mega corporation. In a first hands-on preview, following the reveal of Sunday Gold at the Future Games Show, I’m able to check out the prologue and opening chapter – which gives me a feel for the game’s escape-room-style puzzles, turn-based combat, and character progression system.
Time and again, I’m taken by Sunday Gold and its gritty, graphic novel style look – punchy reactionary panels burst onto the screen when there’s a surprising development, and words like “Blam” and “Bang” pop up when you trade blows. It’s also satisfying to put your observation skills to the test to find useful items around a room and solve puzzles. But for all of its style and challenge, what I love the most is the way Sunday Gold delivers a sense of teamwork and strategy, particularly as you use each character’s unique skillset and arsenal to advance.
Taking on a job
After the stint outside the pub, Frank meets with an old partner in crime, Sally, who speaks about a new job opportunity: the target is Hogan Industries, a company with a bad reputation. Joined by a disgruntled employee named Gavin, who knows the ins and outs of the organization, the three characters form a ragtag team and set out to steal files with classified information from Hogan Labs. So begins the first chapter of Sunday Gold, where you get to take control of, and switch between, all three characters and use their skills to explore and solve puzzles in the pursuit of these files.
Each member of your criminal crew has a set amount of action points (AP) that you use up when you interact with objects or aspects of your surroundings. Searching a car in Hogan’s underground car park, for example, costs 2 AP. These action points are also used to perform attacks in combat, so you have to try and discern what is worth doing and who should do it before everyone runs out of AP. When all of the points run out, you can end a turn which refreshes their AP, but it will also raise the suspicion level – increasing the chance that you’ll have to engage security guards in combat. There’s a multilayered level of challenge in finding things in a room to interact with and deciding if it’s worth investigating.
Certain actions are also tied to the specific characters and their unique skills. Sally serves as the team’s muscle and can use her strength to move or lift heavy objects. Gavin, on the other hand, can hack through systems, while Frank rounds off the trio with the ability to pick locks. When you’re using their special abilities, the action plays out in the form of a puzzle minigame. Gavin’s hacking skill sees me try to work out the correct passcode on a keypad with a wordle-like color system, while Frank’s lockpicking and Sally’s lifting minigames focus more on timing. Each one presents a different kind of challenge and comes with a set amount of attempts. These skills make it feel as though each member has an integral role to play in the robbery you’re trying to pull off, and it again drives home this sense of teamwork as I try to navigate through each room and swap between the characters.
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Similarly with the turn-based battles, Sally, Frank, and Gavin each bring something different to the fray, offering up their own abilities and particular weapons of choice. You’ll once again have to be mindful of your AP, as every attack and skill requires a set amount. Should you run out, you’ll either have to put your guard up to regain attack points, or risk becoming exhausted and effectively losing a turn. Their personalities also mean they might be more susceptible to losing their composure during certain situations – a stat that when too low can lead characters to act out independently in combat. As you fight and progress, each member will level up and you can upgrade a tree of abilities to unlock buffs, combat moves, and useful powers.
From puzzles to interactions and combat, I enjoy the way Sunday Gold makes each character distinctively useful in different ways. You also find yourself really needing to utilize all of their skills to succeed in combat and find your way through one room to the next. It didn’t take me long to get drawn into Sunday Gold’s stylized world. From its striking artstyle to the characters packed with personality, I’m already keen to see where the trio will find themselves next and what other challenges are in store.