Sunday Gold Review: An Enticing Point-And-Click/RPG Mashup

While point-and-click adventures aren't exactly in vogue anymore, they manage to persist merrily along on the gaming sidelines. New genre hybrid Sunday Gold sports a unique hook, combining recognizable point-and-click tropes with some turn-based combat in the style of a JRPG. It’s a vibrant concept that may not stick the landing at every opportunity, but a fetching painterly art style and an infectious soundtrack helps qualify it when it does.

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Enter the streets of London in the year 2070. Two career criminals link up at their local pub to meet an inside geek with a big score in mind: disrupt and take down billionaire madman Kenny Hogan. The lore of Sunday Gold’s dystopian world is worth the exploration - a newspaper discovered on an alley floor early on gets players started - though the story itself is quite personal and zoomed-in. It all centers on a massive sport and betting culture based on reanimated cyborg dogs. Sally happens to be a dog lover and Frank is more cash-minded, with Gavin’s generally meeker vibe hiding a darker secret within.

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On the whole, the Sunday Gold trio are a good hang, but the powering concept under the game is how it folds a turn-based system around both the point-and-click puzzles and combat. There’s an Action Points (AP) system which will be familiar to RPG players (both tabletop and otherwise), with certain tasks like lock-picking or searching a body able to drain AP. Most of the time, though, tasks like inspecting an object for flavor text or moving from place to place will not. The three characters each have individual AP meters, though certain consumable items can refresh AP in either the adventuring or combat sequences.

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There’s some confusion around this mechanic that is never completely clarified by Sunday Gold’s end. Why does it cost repeated AP to search a body in a dumpster, and why do some comparably simpler tasks always seem to cost 3 AP? There’s a save-anywhere function, so players are welcome to endlessly save-scum rather than just end their turn after wasting time and running out of moves, and there’s no real penalty for doing so. Time management is a pressing concern, as well as some simplistic easy minigames tied to each of the three characters’ skills.

At the end of each turn, an invisible dice roll determines whether enemies are summoned or boosts the alert level in the top-right corner of the screen, though it’s hard to interpret exactly how much effect it has on gameplay. Once in combat, Sunday Gold takes on a different perspective, serving up battle camera angles in a manner reminiscent of the recent Persona releases. Each character starts with only a few limited combat skills, but those empty menus flesh out quickly with each level-up. A skill tree allows players to select and focus on certain bonuses or battle strategies, though very few combat encounters pose any significant threat, especially if players keep an eye out for new equipment to grab.

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At times, Sunday Gold doesn’t excel at either of its main mechanics, though its shakier hours are bolstered by its presentation, including complete voice acting throughout. The magnificent art style is an immediate draw; early previews summoned quick comparisons to Disco Elysium's excellent setup, but it seems more reminiscent of older European sci-fi comics, like those found in back issues of Heavy Metal. The soundtrack is a great match, including some infectious jazzy investigative tunes which transition to busier beats for the battle scenes. It’s a shame that very little action in the game is fully animated, though that’s assuredly down to the game’s budget, and its absence never impinges on the style.

When the stars align, there’s some entertaining adventuring to find in Sunday Gold. Not a single puzzle in the game is too taxing, and the complete lack of inventory puzzles means there’s no combining items in the inventory ad nauseam until something sticks. Most obstacles are surpassed by investigating the environment for clues, and a few seemingly inconsequential diverting paths can appear in each of the game’s three chapters, which do change certain scenarios.

Sunday Gold Review Sally Combat

This means Sunday Gold is a little on the short side, and there’s clear elements that could've been built upon for a lengthier stay; for example, a cool-looking hideout proved surprisingly non-interactive. Still, each of the game’s three chapters iterate on the previous one while also containing a handful of unique twists and puzzle-solving surprises. The constant banter between the trio is going to make or break the experience for most, but the dialogue is usually punchy, profanity-laden, and fits the mood and setting.

As a hybrid game concept, both sides of the Sunday Gold experience don’t always feel fully fleshed out, and it’s better to look at the game as an experimental piece with a terrific aesthetic. Specific puzzles or moments absolutely stood out and felt like premium adventuring, with the turn-based combat pulling the shorter straw. For anyone waiting for a lovely point-and-click adventure that experiments with the genre and never wears out its welcome, Sunday Gold is absolutely worth a look.

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Sunday Gold releases on Steam for PC on September 13. A digital PC code was provided to Screen Rant for the purpose of this review.

2022-09-12T12:01:35.000Z

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