Title: The Stillness of the Wind Released On: February 7, 2019 Genre: Adventure Reviewed On: PC Also Available On: Nintendo Switch, iOS Developer: Memory of God/Lambic Studios Publisher: Fellow Traveller MSRP: $12.99 USD / $14.49 CAD
The Stillness of the Wind isn’t so much a game as it is an experience. Put another way, it’s an emotional journey that’s masquerading as a game. It took me approximately 3 hours to finish The Stillness of the Wind, but the story I encountered and the way it was delivered stuck with me for much longer.
I would call The Stillness of the Wind a game of relaxation and reflection. If it’s fun, engaging moment-to-moment gameplay that you’re looking for, you likely won’t find it here – but that isn’t as negative a depiction as it sounds. Described by publisher Fellow Traveller as “A quiet game of life and loss”, The Stillness of the Wind centers around Talma – an elderly woman who has seen her family, friends, and neighbours depart their rural lifestyle to pursue their fortunes in the big city. Talma, however, has continued in her simple way of life caring for goats and chickens, and growing vegetables to sustain herself. The gameplay loop is simple – you wake up each morning, complete your chores, maybe make some cheese or cook some vegetables, have a chat with the traveling salesman who stops by each day, and go to bed. Actions are completed by point and click – there’s no need to over-complicate the control scheme, given that the true star of this game is its story.
There’s something inherently relaxing about devising a daily routine for Talma. You’re free to determine whether you grow vegetables, breed your goats, trade for some extra chickens, or go out and about wandering the desert in search of mushrooms. The music and sound, and the solitary nature of the gameplay sucked me in and invested me in the success of Talma’s homestead. I felt as though I needed her to succeed. Setbacks made me feel legitimate disappointment, and despite a creeping sense of overwhelming futility, I continued to go about my daily routine.
My one gripe with The Stillness of the Wind is that it has some minor pacing issues. On one hand, at times I felt as though things were moving too quickly – I felt rushed to keep up with all of my chores, and the days felt too short to explore the desert outside my homestead. On the other hand, sometimes I felt as though things were progressing a little too slowly. Overall though, this had a relatively small impact on my immersion in the story.
As I went about milking my goats and watering my vegetables, the letters continued to come. These letters from the city, penned by friends and family long since departed, drove the story forward and made the city feel far away and yet on Talma’s doorstep all at the same time. I was constantly curious to see what news the traveling salesman would bring the next day.
The story is greatly enhanced by the game’s atmosphere – music, sound, and a gorgeous art style all serve to immerse you in Talma’s simple homestead life whether it’s a calm, sunny day (perfect for milking goats!) or a dark, menacing thunderstorm and blustering winds are threatening your crops. I felt that the combination of these elements (pardon the pun) really added to the emotion of the game – subtle “voice” cues, such as the occasional bout of laughter or sigh of exhaustion from Talma, also help to deepen the experience and help you share in her joy – or pain.
It’s difficult – particularly while being cognizant of avoiding spoilers – to describe what exactly about The Stillness of the Wind had such an impact on me, or why it drove me to keep playing. While the farming aspects of The Stillness of the Wind are what initially drew me to it, they quickly fell secondary to the developing story and the emotions it evoked. Perhaps it’s because I grew up on a farm and studied Rural Planning and Development, which has left me with a great appreciation for farming communities and the fact that rural populations are rapidly decreasing. Perhaps it’s because as a father of young children, the idea of one’s children leaving for greener pastures is, as of now, an unbearable thought. In any case – regardless of my own personal connections to the game’s story and how they impacted my experience – I believe that The Stillness of the Wind will resonate with many people for many different reasons, and that is truly what makes it worth playing.
Final Score: 9/10
A beautifully told story married with incredibly atmospheric sound and visuals – The Stillness of the Wind is certainly worth a look.
The review copy of this game was a digital code provided by the publisher.