SEASON test: A letter to the future

It was during The Game Awards 2020 SEASON: Letter to the Future opened for the first time. A bicycle road trip, the promise of freedom, exploration and colorful encounters, all in a dazzlingly colorful graphic style, were enough to pique the interest of the independent public.

made by Scavenger StudioWith a push from PlayStation in terms of communications, the indie title then took two years before launching on January 31, 2023, on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store.

We were able to put the game to the test to see if the controller in hand could live up to the hopes it’s had with its brief appearances over the years. And what is clear is that we are dealing with a very specific production.

Test conditions: For the first time on PS5, we tested SEASON for 13 hours, recorded as many items as possible and completely completed the log. The second half was rushed to only 1 hour 30 games.

A journey to celebrate the world

This morning, like all the others, Estelle wakes up in her room, smelling her mother’s breakfast, in a singing mood. But on such a morning, Estelle will no longer know, because she will leave her home village to go on an adventure. After the ritual of creating a talisman to protect her on her journey, she shared one last moment with her mother and she left.

It is up to the players to decide what valuables Estelle will put into the cauldron to burn this talisman. In addition to seeing her only daughter gone after her husband’s death, a mother who sees these fragments of the past, as important memories, comes out of her mind.

The introduction to the theme is already in poetry and emotion, introduces the choice mechanic and applies one of the themes that highlight the story. SEASON : attachment to the past that our five senses allow us to retain.

The rest will be able to follow Estelle in our company, fulfilling a mission as clear as it is heavy to carry: to celebrate the world, its life, its secrets, its diversity to watch the current season. .

By season, we’re talking about more periods here than the traditional spring, summer, fall, and winter. That’s why every season is marked by significant events, and the last season ended with a war a few years ago, but a climate disaster is about to happen.

And so we shall pass through a world bearing the marks of this menace, meet here and there the last people still existing, and immortalize as many elements as possible that symbolize this period within a newspaper. A visit to the village of Karo, where Estelle has spent all her life, reflects a somewhat textbook version of the adventure and allows us to understand its various mechanics, especially as it relates to the equipment on board our hero.

dear diary

Write a letter to the future test screenshot 9 2

Equipped with a camera, a tape recorder and a bicycle, it is up to us to capture life in various forms. The croaking of a frog, the song of a bird, old automatons, artistic or sacred buildings, everything that catches our eye deserves to be written or photographed.

Once assembled, these items should be recorded on the pages of the journal. Each pair of pages corresponds to a sector of the cut game, and a sector is considered complete when four or five elements are pasted on it. Estelle then shares her reflection with us as a result, and new stickers are available to decorate the double page.

Other types of pages are some kind of survey or mini-survey, where you have to specify very specific items to answer them. Dwelling on them in particular and, more generally, filling your diary as much as possible helps to understand the world around us. it allows us to activate our own interpretation and creativity.

Indeed, the diary is quite freely filled. We can choose to resize and rotate photos, text, and other audio that our recordings detect create a composition that suits our tasteto fill the gaps as much as possible or, conversely, to allow the whole to breathe.

Moreover, when there are many elements, it is difficult to create a harmonious image. Not everything is necessarily used and the layout of our pages comes from artistic or symbolic choices depending on how the places speak to us. So, the result is kind of uniqueand it is not unusual to spend some time there once you have mastered the experience of this particular world.

Once the third “level” is completed and Tieng Valley is discovered, the adventure takes on full scale. The main place of the game, relatively large and open, can be freely traversed, The valley, like the game in general, offers an undeniable attraction. The colorful and neat art direction is greatly appreciated through the very beautiful environments and panoramas that we can witness, explore on foot or by bike.

The soundscape should not be left behind, presenting tracks with restrained notes, but above all, it expresses itself organically thanks to the sounds of nature, the flow of water, the cries of insects and animals or the music created by the wind. dancing bells or whistling between special structures. A very pleasant feeling of tranquility accompanies us throughout the adventure..

From thinking to thinking

Write a letter to the future test screenshot 36 3

If visually assessed, this world also interests us in the mysteries that make it up. We often come across objects, buildings, temples, and more mysterious elements with these ubiquitous purple flowers that suggest esoteric practices practiced by a segment of the population.

As we mentioned, journaling, keeping an eye open, and listening carefully help us understand this world and its culture, and Estelle’s voice allows us to both feel and read what’s happening.

At the same time, Estelle discovers for the first time everyday objects whose function and interest are obvious to us. The result is a sometimes naïve, often amusing and interesting portrayal of him, who to this day knows nothing but his village.

This mixture of mysterious and familiar elements, combined with the different points of view between us and Estelle, emphasizes the purely subjective nature of observing the world and its intersection. Through this journey, SEASON it deals heavily with themes of war, religion or family through the memory and weight of the past.

No matter how trivial the obvious echoes of Estelle’s mission, is the slightest thing worth remembering? Aren’t these simple moments the most precious? Or should we prefer to forget some painful parts of our memory or history at the risk of repeating the same mistakes one day? The title often refers to our own perception of these questions, makes you think about and without ever giving us a definitive answer.

One aspect of the game also supported rare encounters with cross-roaders. A handful of characters tell us their stories, being the subject of the game’s only “main quests” and asking our opinion on such and such a question. Some even allow us to listen to their recordings or look at photos to convey them. the feelings of the moment. Therefore, these meetings are experienced as beautiful and enriching parentheses..

The vast majority of Estelle’s dialogue or thoughts very poetic, perhaps sometimes over-expressed, which gives us the impression that everything is poetry. It’s a perfectly valid point of view, but the title probably loses a little of its originality or naturalness, it just ensures that we experience things.

A few trips?

Write a letter to the future test screenshot 17 4

Behind this relaxing ride, unfortunately, there are a few hiccups that can pull us out of its graceful turmoil. First, if writing often skilfully plays with words and ideas, dubbing is rarely followed.

At least the interpretation of Estelle in French, and even one or two additional characters, seems correct, but the actions of the other protagonists remain very uneven, if we say wobbly. Then we recommend the better made English or Japanese version.

Then, while the freedom of exploration is real, especially in the Tieng Valley, it is usually limited to marked trails. The camera stutters as soon as you go slightly off the road or small roads at the level of trees, tall grass and other decorative elements. Moreover, when these are loaded enough, frame rate drops occur. Nothing dramatic, but nothing embarrassing, especially on the PS5.

The story and the way it unfolds can also attract attention. Obviously the attraction SEASON and his words are only valid if you invest and get hold of yourself. In fact, only interacting with the characters moves the script forwardthis can be completed in 5-6 hours and less if we rush the dialogues.

This is equivalent to saying that the constitution of the newspaper, the main point of the headline and its history are paradoxically purely optional. It is perfectly possible not to take pictures or record the slightest noise, except in the rare cases when we have to. The interest is obviously absent, but some will regret that the progress is not more tangible than the personal enrichment of designing the newspaper to our liking.

A criticism that could also affect the selection mechanics. From the first moments, we are shown that it is possible to freely choose certain dialogue responses. In addition, unfortunately the differences between the possible outcomes are quite small.

Even during the seemingly most important choices, only a few lines of dialogue will changethe game is smart enough to show the same cutscenes with just the words of the voiceover to change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *