Houston, We Have a New Fave: Reviewing Sunburn!

When my phone autocorrected ‘or’ to ‘Orlais,’ I knew it was time I took a mini-hiatus from playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was either that or convert my office space into a war table, and I’m happy to report it wasn’t the latter. Thus, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to download Sunburn!, the new game for iOS that just released at the end of November. Spoilers: It’s spectacularly adorable.

Sunburn!

While the creators of Sunburn! describe their project as “a sad, sad game,” I emphatically disagree. They’ve not only managed to handle dark subject matter with incredible finesse, they’ve masterfully blended charming pixel art, an upbeat soundtrack, and accessible mechanics all in one playing experience. I was utterly disarmed by this game within the first five minutes of play, which is saying a lot given I don’t often spare the time for gaming on my phone.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to blast yourself and your fellow crewmembers into the deceptively cute inferno that is the pixelated sun. For 50+ levels, you’re cheerfully encouraged to find, string together, and lead those on your team through space so you can … well, die together. It really is cute—just trust me on this one.

Sunburn!

Okay, how did they know I’m a huge sucker for a good soundtrack? That’s almost scary. Still, the game’s playlist perfectly exemplifies the narrative itself. Combined with cute little quips for dialogue that feel near-interactive, Sunburn! went a long way in setting the space scene.

Ambient and chipper with a dash of digital guitar, the music envelops and lulls you into a sense of dream-like peace. Not only that, but the sound effects that accompany your journey hurtling toward certain death are equally worth noting. I’ve literally never felt this happy about dying in space before. Should I be worried? Nah.

Just in case any of the creators that be are listening: If you released a downloadable soundtrack for this game, you can bet your sun-kissed ass I’d be buying it.

Sunburn!

Although it’s a small detail, I appreciated the fact that Sunburn! seems to place more emphasis on your accomplishments—if you’d call blasting into a space inferno an accomplishment, that is—rather than highlighting your failures. I didn’t feel discouraged when I fumbled with the controls in the beginning, which went a long way to inspire me to play more. While I don’t write off games with excessive YOU DIED screens, they’re more than a little off-putting to me, especially when I’m dipping into a new medium I’m not entirely familiar with. LEFT BEHIND entices me to try again (and again, and again, as is the case here).

Short version? Absolutely give this game a try. Ironically, it’s the perfect way to take a break from (in my case) the stress of finally leaving the Hinterlands. How a game about blasting you and your crew into the sun can be relaxing is beyond me, but this incredible team managed it.

Sunburn! is available for purchase on the App Store for $2.99. It’s worth every digital penny.

(Psst: You should follow their Twitter. It’s equally adorable.)

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