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You Should Play: Sunburn has you round up friends in space, and then plunge everyone into a star

Andrew Hayward | Jan. 19, 2015
These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

With hundreds upon hundreds of new games hitting the App Store each and every week, it's difficult for even a great game to stand out amongst the pack. Attractive presentation can turn some heads, and intriguing gameplay may get people playing (and keep them there), but sometimes you need an extra special hook to grab the attention of prospective players.

In the case of Sunburn, that hook is the premise: the charming, albeit terribly grim plot point that ultimately defines the experience. You play a spaceship captain whose cruiser was just smashed to bits by a glowing ball of light. Despite having no means of communication or tools to survive a long stretch in space, you nonetheless decide to honor your promise that no member of your crew will die alone.

Which means gathering everyone up and plunging straight into the nearest sun for a brutal, albeit oddly noble group death. Did your heart just sink a little? It's such a comically dire concept, yet so beautiful considering the circumstances. And Sunburn sells it perfectly with a colorful, retro-inspired aesthetic and plenty of humor injected via goofy crewmember quips and spacesuit-wearing pets.

Thankfully, Sunburn delivers more than just a unique starting point, as the 50-plus sectors you'll navigate — to round up all nearby allies and launch into the sun before your oxygen supply depletes — deliver compelling gameplay and serious challenge, particularly in the later stages. Thinking about enlisting in this strangely upbeat voyage to spare your pals from a solo demise? Here are three reasons why this is one Sunburn well worth seeking out. 

Seriously, that premise: When I saw the launch trailer for Sunburn some weeks back, my only reaction was to grin widely and say, "Oh, wow." Death is so often your punishment in games — the thing you do everything in your power to avoid. But here, it's the goal. And it's not done in a crass manner; Sunburn isn't gross or offensive at all, although I'm sure the objective might rub some the wrong way. 

Instead, it's drawn up as the most honorable option in an utterly hopeless situation. As captain, you may not have gone down with the ship, but you're certainly not going to let your crew face their certain fate alone. That weirdly romantic premise wouldn't work with a too-serious tone or dull visual design, but Sunburn strikes just the right tone with its charming 16-bit-style graphics and amusing interactions between doomed crewmates. Disturbing as your task may be in each stage, Sunburn keeps things perfectly light and fluffy.

 

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