Season: A Letter to the Future Review – Avoiding the End
Title: Season: A Letter to the Future
Developer: Scavengers Studio
Release Date: January 31, 2023
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Scavengers Studio
I’m no stranger to video games being primarily storytelling. As a fan of visual novels, I’ve grown to appreciate the growth of a main protagonist across a series of events that likely revolve around a group of friends or a mystery. While not explicitly a visual novel, Season: A Letter to the Future instead uses its protagonist to tell the stories of others. As a potential apocalypse grows nearer, you play the role of making sure their stories live on for seasons to come.
Season: A Letter to the Future is built on the theme of memories and how they live within us to get us through troubled times or shape the way we make choices. Most memories carry a lot of emotions, and sometimes, we need to share them with others.
This story is set somewhere between the future and the past in a version of the world that has undergone many hardships across eras known as seasons. However, humans are currently in a time of peace, even though you won’t see too many traveling far from home.
You take on the role of a young woman to document the world in its current state before the season changing, which is fated to be catastrophic. So it’s a somber goodbye as you interact with your mom and share memories of loved ones before heading out into the world.
Gameplay mechanics are straightforward and rarely require any real puzzle-solving or intuition. You have a journal to share key places; in some areas, the journal will require you to find specific landmarks or sounds to add. Your tools are a camera and a sound recorder. You’re allowed to get creative with the camera with filters and macro adjustments, with most pictures followed by a short narrative comment from the protagonist.
This is also found in the recorder that has several use cases throughout the adventure, but any time you hear something unique, pulling it out will reveal an often soothing track of animal noises, rain falling, or fleeting memory trapped in magical flowers. This is your story as much as it is the protagonists. Both she and the player are exploring this world together. Any sense of loneliness, danger, or curiosity is a shared experience that adds to the experience.
Another aspect of gameplay is interacting with the other humans you’ll meet along the way. These conversations are exceptionally profound, as there’s nothing extraordinary about them. Instead, these are ordinary people telling the story of their lives and how they navigate this world or what brought them here. This creates a strange sense of immersion that you wouldn’t think would work, but I found each character charming and wanted to know more about their stories.
However, this also requires the right type of player. The entire experience is taken at a pace that, if rushed through, won’t contain significant weight. You’ll like know within the first 30 minutes if it’s right for you as you walk around your town and learn about its creator. It’s a slow burn and an experience that borders on an art piece that meets an adventure game.
I put myself in the headspace for an adventure like this, but there were moments in the game where I’d rather sit on a bench and listen to the wind than have to progress the narrative and sit through lengthy dialogue scenes. The good thing about that is that you aren’t a time limit and can do everything at your leisure.
The best moments of gameplay happen while traveling from one area to the next. Developer Scavengers Studio truly outdid themselves to create a captivating landscape haunted by the world’s end. It’s insanely immersive in these moments to the point where you can almost feel the sun’s warmth on your skin as you ride your bike across an old bridge. The entire game can be completed in 8 hours, but I don’t feel that’s enough time to take in all this world has to offer.
With your tools in hand, you begin to set the stage and take responsibility for sharing the story of this world before its end. It becomes more than a game, and even though I can be cynical about overly artsy games, I took the mechanic of discovery seriously, which I found surprising.
The only problem that could have likely been mitigated with a larger budget is removing the Loading Screens. Even though there’s no shortage of games that use this, I would have much more enjoyed this game had it taken advantage of more powerful hardware and removed this aspect while connecting the world, so I never had to step out of it.
Season: A Letter to the Future is a rush of emotions. You’ll feel happy, lonely, or even scared at any given time. It plays on the player’s curiosity and rewards those who take the time to explore. If you don’t have that time available, I’m afraid the experience will fall short. It’s a game that makes unremarkable situations remarkable through themes of memories and how we could lose everything in an instant.
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