Game: At Winter’s End
Genre: Visual Novel, Adventure, RPG
System: Steam (Windows, macOS, Linux)
Developer|Publisher: Slandercast Studio | Weston Game Lab
Controller Support: Full
Price: UK £TBA | US $TBA | EU € TBA
Release Date: November 2nd, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Slandercast Studio.
At Winter’s End is a story of a growing young girl who is friends with many of the creatures of the forest. She makes sure to spend as much time as she can with each of her natural friends in spite of how busy she has gotten at school. This is story of love and loss and magic.
The Gameplay of At Winter’s End
The ludology of At Winter’s End focuses on players moving from one screen to the next, interacting with creatures to move the story forward. There isn’t much to describe gameplay-wise; there are basically only two controls: move and interact. During dialogue, you have limited options to reply to the other characters during important scenes based on dice rolls.
You have three die, and you are able to alter the faces of each one as you have more and more important interactions with the creatures of the woods. After a roll, you can reroll any number of die once, then you are stuck with whatever choices the dice have unlocked for you.
A World of Magic Beings
Each critter you can interact with is a symbol of something more. Lake might look like a turtle, but they seem to be more of an embodiment of the lake they live in. Flower looks like a deer covered in flowers, but they appear to be in charge of where to place flowers come spring time. There is also a fox-like creature named Wind, and others.
There is a lot of magic and beauty in this little world the developers have built. It’s cute, cozy, and interesting, and each character is fun to talk to. While there aren’t a whole lot of places to walk to, each one is carefully hand-drawn, and you get a sense that the developers really liked working this project.
The Pros of At Winter’s End
Overall, At Winter’s End is cute. It’s interesting. The story is fresh, and the main character is adorable. There’s a lot to learn, look at, and do in this tiny little world. This humble project is proof that you don’t need a huge budget or a lot of devs to make something interesting to play.
The Cons of At Winter’s End
The story of At Winter’s End is a little bit slow, and it didn’t quite grab me like I was hoping it would. That said, there was a lot of interesting things to see and do, and I think it’s a very well-made, planned, and executed game.
That being said, At Winter’s End is kind of middling. The dice rolling didn’t add anything interesting to the story; it just made talking to creatures kind of frustrating if you didn’t get a good roll. I don’t think the dice should have been added in this way, but I am not sure if I would have left it in at all had this been a game of mine.
The characters are all fine, but few of them have much of a personality. It was kind of hard to tell the difference between any of them just by their dialogue alone. The only one who was any different from the others seemed to be Rat, and that’s mostly because Rat I believe was supposed to be a child.
At Winter’s End is okay. I didn’t fall in love with it, and the dice rolling aspect didn’t add anything to the game. However, it is super cute, beautifully rendered, and worth a playthrough if you like visual novels.
Final Verdict: I Like it.