From time to time appears a title that tries to break the barrier between the fun that can be taken from a video game and put things in real life into perspective, with the aim of making us think a little about our choices and the things that surround us.
We have, for example, the case of Abzu, which stands out for its sublime visuals combined with its sustainability story, or Rime, which has a breathtaking ending in a touching experience, or even What Remains of Edith Finch, which, despite not having a remarkable ending, the touching way in which the story is presented to the viewer is brilliant, to say the least. SEASON: A letter to the future tries to drink a little from these experiences but ultimately, in my perspective, failed to grab me, particularly because of its monotony, the super slow way the story unfolds, and very neutral and uninteresting characters, even their voice lines.
It is true that nowadays a lot of players like action games, or even prefer action to a well-written story. However, there is also a slice of players who prefer a good story to the action of the modernization of competitive online games.
Well then, SEASON: A letter to the Future, exchanges weapons for a camera, an audio recorder, a bicycle, and a blank book leaving all exploration to the player, how to do it, what to explore first, what to photograph or record. The adventure takes place in the skin of a young girl, called Estelle, who comes from a village at the top of a hill, with the dream of exploring the world for the first time, accompanied by her bicycle and, above all, by her diary, where she reports what she sees at certain times, with the intention of leaving it to a person from the future. This title is an ode to the discovery of solitude, but also about the power of memories and moments that we keep close to our hearts.
The way the gameplay itself, through a walking simulator, mixes with the most important moment of the story has its golden moments, but mostly these moments are just vague and without much substance for the character’s baggage. The method of transport used is a bicycle, with the color chosen by the player, the camera and the recorder, as I mentioned earlier, serves as a pen and ink to produce content for the diary and is completely open to interpretation by the player. How to place it, where on the sheet to place it, the size used, the doodles, everything gives the idea that, in a way, this is the story that the player wants to tell, making everything very personal.
This title was played on Steam with a PS5 controller and everything is quite intuitive, giving an interesting sense of immersion since it is possible to have the shaking movement while controlling the bike in areas less propitious to the wheels, small notes where the sounds are more intense, among others.
In the same line of thought, it is possible to find characters scattered across the map. How you respond to certain moments between these interactions will have an impact, both on your lives, as well as your role in the midst of this tale. Time is an important point in our lives, and here it also plays a role, it is fluid and that feeling is captured in the moment of interaction between characters and as our diary is enriched with these moments. Serenity is the catchword while exploring Season’s world, and it goes hand in hand with monotony, I didn’t find it rewarding enough to spend time exploring every corner of the world.
Visually it’s brilliant, with a warm color palette and breathtaking moments. The peculiar characters are super well characterized and distinct from the others. Accompanying all this is a minimalist and serene soundtrack. Unfortunately, the voice acting didn’t move me, I felt a lack of empathy with some characters denoted even at certain points the simple reading of a paper in front of the microphone. In this sense, I even asked myself if it wouldn’t be better at certain points to cut the character’s voice to give my interpretation, even if personal and inside my head, to the personality in front of me.
The rather slow way things are processed and the lack of a sense of danger make SEASON: A letter to the Future an ambiguous but super relaxing title to play. The problem is that its whole story makes little sense among metaphors of a world that is ending. There is a feeling of uncertainty and some questions that hover behind a fog curtain despite all the efforts that are possible to make to decode it.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC provided by Scavengers Studio]