What do you do after running away from the big city to start a new life in the country? You run away from the country to start a new life in the big city, obviously. Former Stardew Valley developer Arthur “Mr. Podunkian” Lee has announced Sunkissed City, a life simulation game set in a delightful coastal burb that’s reportedly “pumping with funky vibes and quirky characters”, together with migraines, stretches of dead water and horrible sewer monsters.
Teased last year, and now formally announced with a Q4 2024 release date, the game casts you as a new starter or “Peco Pioneer” for the friendly Pico corporation. You responsibilities include “fostering a relationship with Apollo’s vibrant community and putting in a good word for Pico’s new eco-focused initiative”. Is there some kind of connection between this eco-focused initiative and the aforesaid ecological/monster-based calamities? Please – I am a journalist, it would be unprofessional of me to speculate.
Functionally Sunkissed City appears to follow closely in the bootprints of Stardew, with the same bustling top-down look. It’s perhaps slightly less production-minded, but it’s hard to get a sense of the graft involved from the Steam blurb. Amongst other things, you’ll decorate your home with furniture, fancy wallpaper and the like, fish on the beach, tend to gardens cultivated by “plant-punks”, forage for herbs and whatnot while hiking up Pinnacle Peak, and take on odd jobs such as warehouse loading gigs for pocket money. There’s also the opportunity to read in the park, give yourself a makeover at Salon Flamingo, expand your wardrobe at Threads, and take in a dish of coffee at the Weird Dog Cafe. Or you could head into the sewers and check out those monsters. I’m not sure whether combat is involved.
Let’s not forget those quirky characters. You can build up relationships with each person individually to hear more about their lives, offering them gifts that might earn you favours in return. I didn’t intend that last bit to sound like a euphemism, but needless to say, romance is a possibility. The forests, meanwhile, are full of mischievous critters called the Keby, who appear to be your major allies in your quest to sort out Apollo City’s mysterious underlying environmental issues. There’s also online and split-screen co-op, with custom difficulty and accessibility settings per player.
I’m not the target audience for Stardew, but I really like the look of those street scenes, with all the crowded-together signs and graffiti. If it’s not enough of a departure for you, you might prefer ConcernedApe’s upcoming Haunted Chocolatier, in which you run a sweetshop staffed by ghosts – it’ll be more combat-focussed, apparently.
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