If you think about it, the goal of every video game, from Super Mario to Tetris, is to stay alive. Well, every game except one. Coming soon to iOS, Sunburn is the Angry Birds of interstellar suicide, in which you have just one goal: to fling yourself into the sun.
If dying in order to win sounds bleak, that’s because it is. In fact, it’s even bleaker than it first appears. Sunburn takes its grim inspiration from “Kaleidoscope,” a Ray Bradbury story about the crew of a starship that explodes in deep space, sending the survivors adrift. The Bradbury story is an existential parable about coming to terms with death, and the ultimate realization that we all die alone.
But not in Sunburn! Heck, “No One Dies Alone!” is the game’s tagline–“alone” being the operative word. In Sunburn, your goal is to tether yourself to your fellow cosmonauts (including a botanist, an engineer, a TV newsman, and even a Laika-like pooch) stranded in space, then use the gravity force of blackholes, meteorites, and moons to sling yourself, Apollo 13-style, into the nearby sun. Fail to do so, and you will drift alone forever as a speck in the eye of an unseeing, uncaring universe.
Despite the game’s dark plot, the actual design of Sunburn is remarkably kid-friendly, filled with peppy chiptunes and cute 8-bit graphics. Suffocating to death in the infinite void of space has simply never been this adorbs, which is already causing some beta-testers to feel very conflicted about the game.
“People just ask why they don’t hang out on a planet until the time comes, I don’t know,” the game’s developer, Diego Garcia, told Motherboard. “I would rather be with my friends and go out, than drift alone in space and eventually asphyxiate. Some people really have a problem with the death-to-win mechanic, and they’ll try to find holes in it.”
All of which makes Sunburn one heck of a litmus test on whether or not you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of guy. Do you optimistically drift alone in space forever, or do you pessimistically fling yourself into the nearest star? I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to go out, I’d rather go out in a blaze, if not of glory, than that of my spacesuit catching fire as I skydive into the sun.
Sunburn should be out in the next few weeks on the iOS App Store.