There are games that will happily provide you with a ten hour tutorial, and more rules and controls than you’d need to launch a spaceship to the moon and back, detailing how massive open worlds with millions of icons work, with hundreds of side missions and a plethora of special events all available to take in. It all gets a bit overwhelming at times. Luckily though there are games like Where the Snow Settles; games that shepherd you on a linear journey from A to B, more focused on the experience of the story and you taking in the sights. But is this enough for the modern-day gamer?
Developer Myriad Games Studio have been working on Where the Snow Settles since 2016, fitting development in on a part-time basis around their normal everyday lives. This is a game that is about community, love, growth, and the supernatural.
You play the role of Aurelia who lives in a small village with her older sister; a hunter. The village is in trouble and the snow around it makes the main role of farming becoming near impossible. With her sister, Aurelia ventures out to explore, discovering some sacred stones that the elders say shouldn’t ever be touched. Of course, the touching of stones happens and soon Aurelia finds herself in the spirit world – walking the same world as before, just with a very different look. She meets some spirits who need her help in saving the world and everything she loves…
The story is the heart and soul of Where the Snow Settles; much more than the gameplay. In fact, it literally takes you on a journey through different landscapes, encountering a variety of characters and scenes as you go. It’s a very short story – and very much a linear one – which will take around 45 minutes to complete. And whilst it’s a story that I very much enjoyed, I can’t help but feel the ending is a bit rushed and certain bits of the narrative were left wanting and a bit unfulfilled. It’s a shame that you’ll possibly be left wanting more.
Gameplay-wise there isn’t much to what happens in Where the Snow Settles aside from you taking control of the main character and moving through the world. There aren’t any jump buttons or combat needs to be had, as you are left to talk with characters and interact with areas or items with just the same button. It’s a very simple way of playing and I’m all for that as it is shown to work extremely well with others; games like Journey for example.
Once again though I have felt that there could well be a little bit more interaction or at least some puzzling or platformer elements included. You can’t die in this game and even when things are falling down around you there isn’t any danger. Saying that, there is something nice about being given the chance to just travel through a world, experiencing everything around you without the worry of death.
The game looks very lovely, what with the gorgeous snowy world it’s created. I enjoyed the character design as well; especially with the two sisters and their home environments. The spirit world itself managed to provide a nice change from the norm as well, all with some other great characters and world-building. Where the Snow Settles has a great tone and is somewhere I could have gladly spent more than the 45 minutes it provides. Further, the soundtrack is one of beauty with some excellent pieces of composition. It also does a clever thing whereby instead of utilising any voice-over when you interact with a character, it replaces it with a musical chord which works very well indeed.
I’m a big fan of game experiences which could be classed as narrative adventures or walking sims. I love being taken on an adventure and guided through new and fantastical worlds and stories. Where the Snow Settles will happily take you on a wondrous journey from start to the finish, but the problem is, that journey is all too short. The story feels rushed somewhat and there are questions left open that need answering. It’s a shame that you don’t ever get a chance to spend longer exploring the world. The gameplay is simple though, and this shows what can be created by a team full of promise and brilliant creativity.
I wanted more, but it is definitely worth exploring Where the Snow Settles.
Spend your lunch break with Where the Snow Settles, on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One