Sunset Spirit Steel – Shivers Are All I Feel

I haven’t been in the best mindset, recently. I haven’t been able to do much of anything, as it turns out. I have wanted to write articles and play games, but it very rarely occurred…
Last week, an opportunity for some paid work arose, which made me busy for a couple of days, but that wouldn’t have affected my writing schedule if I had actually been able to write anything in the first place…
I feel as if I have to explain myself, but I don’t really… Regardless, there is some insight into what has been occurring and why I haven’t posted for a few weeks. On to the game!

Sunset Spirit Steel is a piece created by Kitty Horrorshow. She is a single-person game developer who releases their work through itch.io, nearly always via the “pay what you want” model.
Their games all seem to feature the player exploring a strange landscape while collecting things which provide lore/insight into the world. From the ones I have played, there aren’t any menus or title screens. You click play and you are there.
Sunset Spirit Steel was the first game they made which could run on Mac, so I downloaded it. Their previous games were all playable in browser, but my internet can still be temperamental, so I steered towards the downloads.

SSS01 - Landscape 01

As mentioned above, Sunset Spirit Steel places you in a strange world, with an emphasis on Red. In fact, the only graphical setting option was “Red.”
You move towards illuminated relics and pieces of text appear on the screen. After you find all the relics, the game concludes in a fashion which left me still, in the wake of a scream.

SSS02 - Relic 01

Here is one of the relics you will uncover.

As you can see, the game features a stark contrast in its visual style. While everything is very low resolution, the forms create very surreal silhouettes against the bright background.
The lack of detail and low lighting create a strong atmosphere and sense of uncertainty. This, paired with a minimalist soundtrack, left me feeling very confused and weary as I picked up these fragments of a world, seemingly devoid of life.

SSS04 - Relic 02

What is this?! =S

I’m not entirely sure what the intent of this game was. The way I progressed and the sequence in which I found the relics led me to sinister conclusions. I’m not sure if it was the intended route, but it certainly felt intentional and packed a punch.
While The Static Speaks To Me left me unsettled, Sunset Spirit Steel had me frozen in place, hair standing on end. It was  totally unexpected finale and one I implore you to experience for yourself.

SSS06 - Relic 03

I have heard people praising the art style as “retro PSX.” I’m not sure I am entirely a fan of it, but I feel it is definitely suited to this particular game and that Kitty Horrorshow has made good use of sound and visuals to create something that stands out.
You can see definite influences of early Quake and Turok in the geometry of the environment, but the overall tone is something entirely different, especially in the current gaming climate.

SSS07 - Landscape 03

It is hard to call this a game as its duration is no more than 10 minutes and it’s gameplay is minimal; find things and press “E” to interact. That being said, I am increasingly finding these short-form narrative experiences alluring. I enjoy being able to understand the experience and what is expected of me in a few moments and actually test theories over a handful of plays, without investing days of my time on it.
In short, I approve of Sunset Spirit Steel and I look forward to trying more works from Kitty Horrorshow.

Through pieces of reality materialising before her eyes, Ellie stored the fragments and shared them on the internet. The singing spoke of a creator known as Kitty Horrorshow to whom these pictures belonged. Ellie joined in the song and concurred to the fate of those who would steal these pieces… Darkness, for sure…
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