First time I played the Summit Forest level, it was night:

When I fast traveled to come back there later, it was day:

How does time pass in the game? What exactly determines the day/night cycle of the game? And how does the in-game time correlate to real-life time?

  • I cannot shake the feeling that the time ingame is somehow tied to the real-world wall clock time of the player... – Kerrek SB Jun 1 '13 at 13:04

Yes, the game does follow the local time that your console or PC is set to. Not only that, it matches the sunset/sunrise times based on current time of year/month. Pretty cool. But sucks if you only get to play at night.

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    This isn't true everywhere... I only get to play this game after the kids are in bed, and I've definitely seen sunlight. – Kip Jan 9 '15 at 17:29

I think it relates to the story progress.

Everywhere that you travel to after the game is complete will be day.

Fast travel during the story and the time of day stays at that story point.

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    That's not true. I completed the game, and both Shanty Town and Summit Forest are night or dusk. – Kerrek SB May 31 '13 at 22:27

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