A Winter’s Daydream – Xbox One Review
As a reviewer you get to experience a whole range of different games, so its rare when you experience a genre you’ve not come across before. This was certainly the case for me when I got to see A Winter’s Daydream. I say ‘see’ rather than ‘play’, because its stretching the truth way too far to actually call this a game. I’ve played plenty of story games where you make choices at key points to drive the story in a certain direction, but there is a complete absence of that here, just a straight text based story that scrolls onto the screen leaving you to just press A to move things along to the next page. This is all accompanied by some nice pictures to accompany the story, and a pleasant sound track to set the mood of each chapter. You’re just here to experience this little novella rather than interact with it, which is certainly unusual for something on a games console, but that doesn’t mean the project is without merit.
The story is told in the first person from the perspective of Yuu, a young man in his first year at University, who has returned home from Tokyo to his family home in the kind of village that doesn’t offer much for the younger generation and is a place a lot of them can’t wait to leave. Yuu has come home to spend the New Years celebrations with his family, which is a major event in Japanese culture. No sooner has he arrived at his parents, he is reminded of how poor his relationship with his younger sister has become as they’ve grown up, and inevitably they can’t help argue. Yuu decides that a visit to his elderly grandmother is long overdue, so heads off to her house in an even more remote part of the countryside for a couple of days.
Its while at his grandmother’s house that Yuu’s story takes an interesting turn with the occurrence of something wonderful, forcing him to re-evaluate his relationships with his family and how he looks at the different generations. A reveal here would be a massive spoiler and the only real twist in the story, so we don’t really need to go into it other than Yuu gets a surprise that turns the next few days on its head. The writing only comes into its own at this point, as before this the story has been very slow, over descriptive and over analytical when very little is happening and doesn’t let the reader form their own interpretation. The second half of the story however is worth waiting for with some thought provoking and moving themes. On a personal level it deals with family relations, loss and the process of growing old, as well as touching on issues involved with wider Japanese society, such as the interpretation of traditional culture and its slow decline. If you stick it out through the quite frankly boring first part of the story you’re rewarded with a tale that you may find unexpectedly moving.
The graphics, apart from the scrolling text, which is nice and clear, consists of scenes directly related to the current chapter of the story, all shown from the first person perspective of Yuu, which mirrors the narrative style. They are well drawn, of a Japanese graphic novel style, pleasant on the eye without being striking, memorable or remarkable.. Its mostly the interiors of the house or showing characters such as Yuu’s sister or grandmother. The audio soundtrack definitely crossed for me into what you define as cheesy, the kind of muzak that sets a mood, but admittedly does fit in with the current scene in the most part. In that respect it does its job, just giving you an audio background without distracting you from the story.
A Winter’s Daydream utilises an auto-save as the story progresses but doesn’t let you manually save when you want. As you’re never sure when the auto-save is operating (I’m assuming between scenes), you’re never sure how much of the story you’re going to have to re-read if you’re taking breaks and going back into it at a later date. One aspect that may appeal to those gamers that care about Gamerscore is that the few achievements, 11 in total, are achieved with absolutely no effort at all. The full 1000G is given to you in one read through, as getting to certain points in the story trigger each achievement. In fact if you set the text to Auto-scroll before you task, you don’t even have to read the story, or indeed even be in the room to get your 100% completion, just start things off and come back when its finished. Arguably the easiest 1000G you’re ever likely to get! The story comes in at around 50,000 words, so should be completed in about 3 hours
A Winter’s Daydream will set you back about a fiver to buy, which to be honest is still a little steep for the lack of interaction you get, so may only be worthwhile if you fancy the easy game completion. If you do fancy experiencing something a little different on your Xbox One you could give it a whirl and relax for a couple of hours with this story. Thought provoking and moving at time, it does lay the sentimentality on thick at times, touches on some themes you may find a little odd if youre not familiar with Japanese culture, but thankfully just about holds back from being overbearingly romantic. just don’t buy under the misapprehension that this is what you would traditionally call a game.
Publisher: Sometimes You
Many Thanks to Sometimes You for the review copy.