Back in 2018 at PAX Australia I went hands-on with a demo for a game called Where the Snow Settles from Hobart-based developer Myriad Games Studio. It may have only been a brief demo but I got a sense for what Myriad Games Studio was aiming for – a short experience that tells an emotional tale. Despite being the studio’s first real title, with both their previous releases developed during game jam sessions, I labelled the game one of nine Aussie-made games to watch for this year. As our featured developer and game for September for Made In Australia, I was able to get a hands-on look at how far the game has come since PAX AUS 2018 and to see if my prediction was coming to fruition.
Players assume the role of Aurelia, a young girl whose major inspiration is her older sister Esta. The village and region in which they live is snow stricken, forcing Esta and a group of hunters to go searching for food. However, before they depart, Esta and Aurelia decide to take a quick walk to a nearby stone monument. Aurelia is dared to touch the monument and does so, resulting in her teleporting to another world where she soon discovers that her world is falling apart. It’s up to Aurelia to save her village and find her sister before it’s too late.
Everyone knows not to touch the stones of the Elders
Where the Snow Settles’ gameplay features some of the same DNA found in games like Firewatch. It’s very much a passive experience, with a heavy focus on the narrative, so there isn’t a lot that you actually do gameplay-wise, but this is exactly the kind of experience Myriad Games wants you to have. Aurelia will interact with a handful of items, some that will help Aurelia in her quest, while others will help Aurelia understand the world around her.
The world is punctuated by a muted colour palette that paints a bleak (and frozen) picture, and it’s one that has a rough indie charm to it. Adding to the charm are the faceless character models, which helps add to the overall mystery of the world. Not only are the characters faceless, but they are also voiceless, however audio still plays a vital part of the storytelling, with every piece of dialogue backed by an audio cue of sorts, such as a guitar strum or piano chord that attempts to convey tone.
A world so cold
While my hands-on time was brief, I came away keen to see how the game evolves from now until release in 2021. I will admit that the game’s 1-2 hour playtime has made me re-evaluate my expectations for the title somewhat. Not in a bad way, but my initial assumption was that this was going to be a slightly longer playtime. But that’s on me though. Myriad Game Studio tells me that they are planning to rewrite a lot of the game’s dialogue after feedback from playtesters, but there’s definitely potential for a touching experience, whether Myriad Games Studio can do so in a short runtime we’ll have to wait and see.
Where the Snow Settles releases in 2021 on PC and Xbox One. If you want to know more about Where the Snow Settles check out our interview with Myriad Games Studio or visit the game’s official website.