With video games serving as a primary source of escapism for many of us who experienced these issues as children, two Indonesian developers are utilizing the medium to bring attention to the negative effects of bullying through the creation of a new visual novel.
In collaboration with Niji Games, Indonesian indie game developers Eternal Dream Studio will release The Sun Shines Over Us (or Menggapai Matahari in Bahasa Indonesia) on the Google Play Store on October 7 as a free-to-play title. The game was developed by Eternal Dream Studio and published by Niji Games. The release of The Sun Shines Over Us coincides with World Mental Health Day, which takes place on October 10.
Finalist for the Southeast Asian Game Awards in 2021, the game depicts adolescent depression and the recovery process of bully victims in a high school setting, among other themes. The goal of the game is to raise awareness about mental health issues and how to deal with mental health challenges through the medium of a visually appealing visual novel.
Set in a private high school in Jakarta, The Sun Shines Over Us follows a student named Mentari, who suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of being bullied. In the meantime, she has been transferred to a new school, where she meets new friends, each of whom is dealing with their own personal problems and neuroses.
Each character’s reaction to Mentari’s condition will be unique, and many of the characters will be dealing with their own mental health issues, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, and the mental stress caused by broken families.
When the sun shines over us, I’m trying to convey the feeling of sudden relapses brought on by trauma and triggers, the never-ending back and forth between recovery progressions, and similar experiences.
Players will be confronted with a variety of dialogue options and actions throughout the course of The Sun Shines Over Us’ gameplay, all of which will have an impact on the story. Every decision you make will have an impact on the scenes and interactions between the characters. Each option will also have an impact on Mentari’s progress in her recovery as well as her interactions with the other characters.
As Nikko Soetjoadi, the founder of Niji Games, put it: “I want The Sun Shines Over Us to be able to give hope to those who have been bullied, while also educating and enlightening the general public on how to deal with and respond to bullies.”