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The HMV GamesMaster Golden Joystick Awards 2012 Event

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The Stillness Of The Wind

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 21 - 2019

A game filled with loneliness.

The stillness of the Wind, from Memory of God and Lambic Studios, is an unusual little game. While it presents itself, at least primarily, as some kind of Harvest Moon style farming game, the reality is something much more profound and quite possibly personal to the developers. I am not entirely sure that I appreciated the emotions that the game made me feel, but if nothing else, The Stillness of the Wind really makes you think.

tsotw1 (Copy)

Players will take on the role of Talma, an elderly lady who is single-handedly responsible for the upkeep of a small holding in the middle of nowhere. And I mean nowhere. This small farm is slap bang in the middle of some massive desert, with nothing to see for miles. Even at this point, the isolation that becomes a massive feature of the game feels uncomfortable.

Talma, and thus the player, will fill the day with various chores in an attempt to keep the farm ticking over, and maybe even make some produce to trade for trinkets. To this end, Talma will collect eggs from the chickens, milk the goats and maybe prepare the ground and grow some seeds. These chores, and the various other actions that Talma can take, will keep her busy until the sun goes down, when she must head to bed, only to awaken the following morning and start all over again.

As an elderly lady, Talma is unable to do anything quickly, and moves at such a pace that leaving the small farm to explore the dunes may well end with the sun going down and Talma having to find her way back to the farm in darkness. Because of this slow and steady pace, players will have to carefully decide what they will have Talma do, as actions have consequences and failing to complete all of the necessary chores could have devastating effects.

tsotw2 (Copy)

Talma’s only contact with the outside world is when a travelling merchant comes calling. It is here that, through a method of bartering, Talma can trade any goods she has produced on the farm, for essential items such as Hay for the goats, or new seeds to plant. She can also trade her produce for a variety of non-essential goods to just brighten up her environment, but these can be costly and don’t really bring any benefit to Talma or the farm.

It may seem that Talma’s day to day life is just busy work for the player, but with the arrival of that merchant also comes letters from family members and loved ones. This, I think, is the point of the game. Players will get to read all about the lives of Talma’s family as they carry on without Talma in the big cities. The letters don’t always make sense, and they can take a very dark turn at times as they relate the various goings on in these other people’s lives, lives that Talma has no sway over. Little things can also spark memories in Talma of better, more prosperous and less lonely times. The evidence that this farm was once a loving family home is all around, and Talma can be greatly affected by the memories, or the letters that come through, even leading to nightmares.

But still, Talma and the player will continue to plod on with the chores and keeping the farm turning over for the four or five hour runtime of The Stillness of the Wind. The actual gameplay in-between the arrival of new letters or memories does unfortunately drag on, especially given Talma speed of movement, taking away from the emotional impact of the game.

Visually, The Stillness of the Wind looks really nice on the Switch. The predominantly yellow background with the few small 3D models on screen go a long way to enforce the feeling of solitude. There is a great use of shadow as the sun goes down and the environment seems much more defined during the night. There is little use of audio in the game, making the player feel even more alone.

tsotw3 (Copy)

The Stillness of the Wind is a game with a message. What that message is, comes down to the player. It could be a reminder to visit far away relatives. Or maybe it is a dark warning of what many of us will face in the future. Whatever message the player takes, I find it difficult to believe that anyone would come away from this game untouched. The gameplay is a bit meandering and struggles to go anywhere, and many players will not want an emotional experience from a game. However, those looking for a slow-paced game with emotional depth should check out The Stillness of the Wind.




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