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The Dead of Winter
Author: William Dooling
Date: 2019

Reviewed by David Whyld

This was the fourth game by the same author I've played and the first I was determined to finish. The others I found to be very interesting ideas but as games they seemed somehow cold and lifeless. Unfortunately, after playing this for a while, that was my impression of this game as well.

It's a survival game, a genre I've never been very fond of. You're basically never more than a few moves away from death and you will die here. A lot. I lasted three moves on my first go, which was about average for my experience here. Restarting the game again and again and trying different things each time seem to be the best way to make progress, or so I figured anyway. But as I never managed to get very far, maybe not.

One advantage to the rapid deaths is that each go doesn't take long and starting again many, many times seems to be encouraged. Quite a few times, I died, then started again and died once more all in the space of a minute.

There are quite a few rough edges here which make an already brutally hard game much, much harder. One location advises me that I can "gather" (one of the game's special commands) but it doesn't work. Several other times, I rested because the game advised me to, only to be told I needed to rest again. I also sometimes only made a single move before being told I was exhausted. Surely a mistake?

I've not played many survival games before but the ones I have played generally start off fairly easy then quickly ramp up the difficulty the further you get into them. This game starts hard. Too hard. I'm all in favour of difficult games, but repeatedly dying in three or four moves just isn't much fun.

Overall, I think it liked the idea of the game more than the game itself. Fix some of the problems, ease up on the constant deaths and there could be a good game here.

4 out of 10

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