” (…) the only way to go on is to go on. To say ‘I can do this’ even when you know you can’t.” – Stephen King
A Sketchbook About Her Sun is a new, experimental interactive fiction divided into 11 segments, each one corresponding to a song from Red Ribbon’s new album, Planet X. Players take on the role of Lucia, confused about her feelings for someone and fleeing her home city on a journey of self-discovery!
Developer: Team SolEtude
Released: 11th June 2021
Available on: Steam
Gameplay and Narrative
After arriving in an unknown town, Lucia is still tormented by thoughts of the person she is attracted to. As she searches for herself, players explore her mindscape through her thoughts, drawings and the music she is listening to! Drawings overlap the main scene of the game and abstract choices such as ‘dreams or disappear’ are presented to the player, these decisions will be used to form a poem at the end of each chapter. Essentially the drawings and music are telling a story but it is up to the player to decide how that is interpreted.
A Sketchbook About Her Sun runs at a set speed, not waiting for the player to click in order to progress. Alongside timed choices, this means it is easy to miss things. The game has a nice pace, however, and does not feel rushed, it simply requires the player’s full attention. This requirement to play the game mindfully helps to make it a really relaxing experience in spite of how emotive it can be.
A Sketchbook About Her Sun consists of delightful, hand-drawn artwork with a slightly sketchy style and utilises colour palettes with different shades of purple and orange that create a nice contrast with the harsher style of the black and white drawings. The game also uses a small mix of charming animation aesthetics.
Even next to the many well-executed elements of this game, the music is a standout feature and a highlight. Each chapter of the game features a new track from Planet X, including frantic, tension-building piano, beautiful, melancholy vocals, folksy acoustics, and moody punk guitar. It is a fantastic advert for the album!
Overall, A Sketchbook About Her Sun is a unique, somewhat abstract but wonderful experience. The narrative is engaging, it has a distinct aesthetic and one of the best indie game soundtracks I’ve heard! All the elements come together perfectly to create a moving and immersive experience. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and poignant game that I highly recommend to all fans of visual novels and interactive fiction.
Want to read about another game by Team SolEtude? Check out this review:
Beyond Your Window: Emotive and Intertwined Slice of Life Stories