Choices That Matter: And The Sun Went Out proves text adventure games have a place in the world if they have a solid story and meaningful decisions.
Text adventure games are a hard sell in 2020, especially at a time when next-gen systems like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S are launching. Even though they’re generally seen as a relic of a time when computers were not capable of displaying complex graphics, there is still a market for them, and developer Tin Man Games proves it’s still capable of delivering some interesting experiences with Choices That Matter: And The Sun Went Out.
The gameplay in Choices That Matter essentially revolves around reading the text shown on the screen and making choices based on the dialogue. In that sense, the game is incredibly easy to play, as users only need to be able to press the A button and scroll through text using the thumbstick. Choices That Matter also features none of the difficult puzzles that are present in old school text adventure games like The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. That makes it something players can easily experience while using a single Joy Con, and it’s also a relatively relaxing game to play despite the fact that it demands focus to follow the story, largely because there is so little that players have to do.
That does not mean that there aren’t some nice accessibility options in Choices That Matter: And The Sun Went Out. The developer has done a good job of giving users lots of options when it comes to getting through the narrative. Special buttons at the top and bottom of the screen let players reverse time or skip forward through the dialogue in big chunks. That means there’s no fear of missing important information or plot points. Meanwhile, those who want to get through the action a little quicker can do so. It’s also possible to use the touch screen on the Nintendo Switch rather than a controller, perfect for when playing in handheld mode.
In terms of the presentation, there’s little to keep players engaged outside of the wall of text. The only thing that really separates Choices That Matter from a standard book is the fact that the words appear on the screen with gentle animations. Thankfully, the visuals are simple and easy to read and there’s even a dyslexic mode to increase the game’s accessibility even further. An animated character known as Moti also appears on the side of the screen to add some brevity and display emotion.
Of course, the most important aspect of Choices That Matter is the story. Almost immediately from the get-go, players are flung into a breathless story that is full of intrigue and mystery. There are murders, a strange natural phenomenon that plunges the world into darkness, and a cast of interesting characters. Ultimately, the game has a compelling enough story to make up for the lack of real gameplay. It effectively pushes players on to find out what is happening and how the story ends.
Choices That Matter is also obviously inspired by choose your own adventure novels. The developers say there are more than 600,000 words in the entire story and some 2,400 choices. Seeing them all is something that will require multiple playthroughs, as each decision can have consequences about how the story proceeds. The game even tells users the percentage of people who ended up in the same place, showing just how much the plot can diverge in a short space of time.
That also makes Choices That Matter ripe for additional playthroughs. The fact that it does not outstay its welcome by dragging on too long means that coming back to it and trying out different choices feels worthwhile. Especially when profoundly different events can take place from seemingly minor decisions that snowball as the narrative unfolds, unlike choices that don’t matter in other games. It remains satisfying throughout to see what paths open up from the choices made in previous chapters.
The fact that Choices That Matter is a text-based adventure game will put off many people. After all, it lacks even the illustrations or basic animations that are available in visual novels, which remains popular today. But that shouldn’t stop players from giving it a go. The simple gameplay means that practically anyone can play it, while the story is compelling enough to keep users engaged. Anyone who starts the adventure will want to carry on to the end, seeing exactly how their decisions play out in every chapter, and that makes Choices That Matter: And The Sun Went Out well worth a try, even if it’s not ground-breaking in its execution or presentation.
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Choices That Matter: And The Sun Went Out is available now for PC and Nintendo Switch. Screen Rant was provided with a digital Nintendo Switch copy of the game for the purposes of this review.
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