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Review: Sunshine Manor | 80’s Horror on Xbox Series X

Ah, the ’80s, a decade that left an indelible mark on pop culture, especially in the horror genre. Sunshine Manor, a game that marries Super Nintendo style with supernatural spookiness, brings the best of this era to the Xbox Series X. Developed by Fossil Games and published by Hound Picked Games, it’s a retro-inspired survival horror game that boldly embraces both its nostalgic and chilling elements. Let me take you through the winding halls of this eerie mansion, exploring the highs and lows of this peculiar time-travelling frightfest.

Sunshine Manor

A Tale of Two Eras

Sunshine Manor opens with a compelling narrative, throwing players into an eerie Halloween night in 1980. You step into the shoes of Ada, a young girl out trick-or-treating with her friends when they stumble upon the ominous Sunshine Manor. It’s a story rooted in both supernatural lore and ’80s nostalgia, set against the backdrop of the struggling actor Clement Aitkin’s attempt to resurrect his waning career by striking a Faustian deal. These intersecting narratives add depth to the game, and the compelling character interactions, while sometimes toeing the line between earnest and comedic, are a highlight of the experience.

Sunshine Manor

Gameplay & Atmosphere

In terms of gameplay, Sunshine Manor departs from its predecessor, Camp Sunshine, opting for a more linear and puzzle-focused approach. The design includes a mix of item hunts, puzzles, and mini-dungeons, which break up the action nicely. It still features inventory-based puzzles, but there’s more variety here, with rudimentary combat added. Your stamina bar becomes crucial, creating tension as you navigate the mansion’s gloomy environs. The addition of combat brings a refreshing twist to the typical survival horror formula, adding some much-needed excitement.

What Sunshine Manor nails best is its atmosphere. The game is soaked in gothic horror themes, and the blood, skeletons, and gory visuals amplify the eerie ambiance. It’s unabashed in its use of unsettling elements, adding an extra layer of dread to the already creepy mansion. The lack of a continuous background score, combined with unnerving sound effects, makes you feel both alone and watched. The game’s pacing keeps you on edge, using silence to build tension before breaking it with sudden, heart-pounding musical cues.

Sunshine Manor

Mixed Jump Scares

However, there are moments when jump scares can feel unfair due to the lack of reaction time. Encounters with the shadowy figure can be intense, but sometimes you find yourself captured in an instant with no room for evasion. These cheap deaths can be frustrating and diminish the game’s otherwise effective scares.

Sunshine Manor

A Nostalgic Trip with a Few Hiccups

Sunshine Manor is like a VHS tape from the ’80s – it captures the nostalgia brilliantly but comes with some tracking issues. Its lack of a map can lead to aimless wandering and frustration. The point-and-click adventure game structure, while fitting for the genre, sometimes makes it hard to figure out what to do next. This ambiguity can test your patience, but for players who appreciate the genre’s quirks, it’s all part of the experience.

In the realm of nostalgia-driven horror, Sunshine Manor is a love letter to the ’80s. Its ambitious storytelling, mingling dark supernatural elements with a child’s curiosity, creates a compelling narrative. While it might struggle with a lack of guidance and occasionally unfair jump scares, the game embraces its retro charm. If you’re ready for a nostalgic romp through 80s-style horror, Sunshine Manor awaits your exploration on the Xbox Series X. Just remember to keep your wits about you and your flashlight batteries charged.

Sunshine Manor

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