Sunday Gold Review 1

There are an awful lot of genre-mashup games, but few of them work as well as Sunday Gold. I never thought I’d get so much out of an experience that mixed RPG and point-and-click gameplay, but here we are. Between the game’s excellent art style and how well it mixes the two separate genres, there are quite a few surprises to be had. It does have some balance issues from time to time. One of the characters has an attack that’s stupidly overpowered if you bother to improve it. But this dog wins its races with more than just luck.

Frank and Sally frequently team up to pull off heists and the like. Things sideways after a job; their third member, Ruth, is left behind. And Sally is contacted by Gavin, a programmer who works for a company run by a man named Kenny Hogan. Kenny is involved with races that feature cyborg dogs. As you’ve likely guessed, he’s behind some shit that’s not quite ethical. Gavin hires Frank and Sally to break into Hogan’s office and make off with data on his company’s server to get to the truth. Naturally, the three end up getting drawn into more than they bargained for.

 

The story in Sunday Gold (named after Kenny’s prized racing cyborg dog) is intriguing — if pretty familiar. It’s buoyed by the fact that all the major dialogue is voiced to perfection by a talented cast. Everyone’s English, which adds a lot of flavor to the proceedings. The game will take around 11-14 hours, depending on how thorough you are (and if you happen to get stuck on some of its tougher puzzles or you reload saves a lot). Everything here is high quality, plus there’s even some replay value in spots thanks to each chapter having two ways to tackle a certain problem.

Sunday Gold Review 2

Born to run

Gameplay in Sunday Gold is split between point-and-click sections and turn-based combat. Each of the three main characters in Sunday Gold has seven Action Points. These Action Points unify the gameplay. While you’re clicking around in the environment to find a way forward, you need to have characters perform certain actions to progress. These actions cost Action Points. But the characters also use these same Action Points during combat. Once you’re out of points during the point-and-click sections, you can refill seven of them by ending your turn. But this raises the security level, which means you might get into a fight.

The point-and-click gameplay is kind of ingenious on its own. You need to pick one of the three characters whenever you need to interact with anything. Each character has their own special skill, too: Frank picks locks; Sally uses her ferocious strength; and Gavin can hack things. Each of these is accompanied by a minigame. Frank and Sally’s minigames can be made much easier by putting points into their respective stats, although they’re perfectly manageable without doing so. The hacking is tougher by default, but Gavin gets a skill that lets you immediately skip his minigame. Well, most of them, at least.

Combat lets each character use a move connected to AP use. Basic attacks burn one AP, and skills use more. Items don’t use any points. And characters can guard, which refills five AP by default. Enemies are also weak to certain types of attacks. Guards are weak to slashing and cyborgs, and robots take more damage from tech attacks. You’ve also got piercing and blunt attacks, but I don’t recall much of anything being weak to those, which unbalances the combat. Hitting an enemy’s weakness doubles the damage. If they’re resistant to that type of damage, it gets halved instead. It’s not Shin Megami Tensei levels of good, but I enjoyed the system in Sunday Gold.

Sunday Gold Review 3

Pick your poison

A character’s gear determines what type of damage they do. If you equip a slashing weapon, for instance, that character’s physical skills will all become slashing. Guns are all piercing by default, but you can equip them with different ammo to change that as well. It’s often a pretty good idea to reload your save to change your loadout based on need. You sadly can’t load directly from the pause menu in Sunday Gold, but you can go back to the title screen fairly quickly. I did this a lot, as I was careful not to waste my AP lest I increase my alert level unnecessarily.

I did try to skip combat when I could, as fights can take too long. The first boss fight is a slog, but this is mitigated since you can stack bleeding nine times, which makes things faster. There are plenty of status effects to also keep in mind. Characters also have composure, which is reduced by performing certain actions or running into specific enemies. Penalties are triggered when composure is lowered enough. It’s basically a sanity system.

Sunday Gold‘s difficulty is pretty uneven, however. At some points it seems a bit too hard, but at others it’s just right. On occasion, the game can also feel too easy. The aforementioned OP skill is Gavin’s overload attack, which does a straight percentage of damage against tech-based enemies. It’s not useful at all if you don’t upgrade it. If you do upgrade it, you can take 20-25% of a tech enemy’s health in one move. Astoundingly, this even works against the last boss, which I found almost impossible to believe at first. But there’s also a section where one character has to fend for themselves, which felt a lot harder than the rest of the game.

Sunday Gold Review 4

Outside of the box

In fact, the entire final chapter is a lot harder than the rest of the game. Ending a turn often led to a long fight, and the high AP costs for the huge amount of actions required meant it happened often. But this chapter is also really impressive, since it’s basically a giant puzzle box that has a ton of goodies hidden away. Some of the puzzles in this section were kind of hard to understand, though. One has you rearranging pool cues, and I still don’t know how I solved it.

Another weird thing is that, by chapter three, my characters were all at their max level. Fights no longer granted me experience, and there were no more skill points to allocate to the cast’s skills (which was disappointing).

Still, Sunday Gold bites off a lot, but it cleans its plate admirably. This is a game with a deep commitment to justifying the inclusion of two totally separate genres that are each fully fleshed out and enjoyable on their own merits. Figuring out the proper combat rhythms feels great, as does carefully balancing your team’s AP during the point-and-click sections. The balance could definitely stand to be tighter and I wish characters didn’t cap out at level 10, but I’m glad I got to experience this one.

Sunday Gold Review 5

Sunday Gold

8.5

Successfully marrying two completely different types of gameplay while still making sure they're sufficiently deep is no mean feat, but Sunday Gold offers up that and more with its excellent gameplay and lovable cast of foul-mouthed characters.

Andrew Farrell
Andrew Farrell has an extreme hearing sensitivity called hyperacusis that keeps him away from all loud noises.  Please do not throw rocks at his window.  That is rude.  He loves action and rpg games, whether they be AAA or indie.  He does not like sports games unless the sport is BASEketball. He will not respond to Journey psych-outs.

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