Im­pact Win­ter



Sur­vival games are all about ek­ing out lit­tle vic­to­ries: as Shinji Mikami noted, “Be­yond the hard­ship lies ac­com­plish­ment.” Yet the re­turns rarely cor­re­spond to the ef­fort. It’s the car­rot of an­other goal that keeps you hooked, mak­ing you for­get you’re still chas­ing two of this and three of that to make one of the other. Im­pact Win­ter looks for ways to rem­edy this prob­lem. The prom­ise that help is ar­riv­ing in 30 days sets you a clear – if some­what dis­tant – tar­get to work to­wards, and you can even bring it closer. Be­ing part of a group means you don’t just have some­thing to fight for, but some­one. And bor­row­ing Res­i­dent Evil 4’ s won­drous in­ven­tory-man­age­ment sys­tem is never a bad idea.

As Ja­cob, leader of a small band of sur­vivors holed up in a church, you set out each day into a deso­late, snow­bound world, the re­sult of a dev­as­tat­ing me­teor strike. Your job is to turn trash into trea­sure, fill­ing your ruck­sack with items scav­enged from snow caves, empty houses and aban­doned cars, be­fore bring­ing them back to base so NPC friends can craft items to stave off star­va­tion, de­hy­dra­tion and even de­pres­sion. Whiskey, as you may know, is a real morale-booster.

A hover­ing ro­bot buddy, Ako-Light, ab­sorbs data from ev­ery­thing you do, from dis­cov­er­ing new places to suc­cess­fully craft­ing items. This helps boost your ra­dio sig­nal to re­duce the res­cue timer by a few hours, while un­lock­ing new roles that Ja­cob can as­sign to his col­leagues, each with pros and cons. Some of th­ese are log­i­cal: it makes sense that a Ne­go­tia­tor might pacify in­trud­ers so they don’t in­jure any­one when break­ing in, though they’ll leave with more of your sup­plies. But im­mu­nity from flu mak­ing one more likely to cre­ate rifts within the group is rather harder to ac­cept.

Mo­ments like this mean it’s hard to ever see your al­lies as real peo­ple, more a se­ries of gauges that reg­u­larly need top­ping up. “Some of the team love par­tic­u­lar recipes and as­sign­ing them to the right per­son will boost Morale,” chirrups Wendy, the group’s cook. This is a hu­man be­ing you’re meant to care about. Not that you’ll spend enough time with fel­low sur­vivors to form an at­tach­ment any­way – you’ll only see them briefly when you re­turn to drop off your lat­est haul.

Slug­gish menus, clumsy con­trols and an in­tru­sive, at­mos­phere-scup­per­ing sound­track mar each ex­cur­sion, while ex­ces­sive weather ef­fects will have you strain­ing to see as you awk­wardly bump up against ob­jects to find out if they can be ran­sacked. It’s telling that your main re­ward for do­ing well in Im­pact Win­ter is has­ten­ing the endgame; like Ja­cob, the thought of spend­ing a full month in this gloomy lit­tle world is enough to have you reach­ing for the Scotch.

The in­ter­face is a mess. Some ob­jects – but not all – are out­lined to show you can search them. You can only quit some menus with B. To exit one screen you have to press start; for an­other only the back but­ton will work

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