In a race against time, how far are you willing to go in order to survive? This is the question that Impact Winter ask you time and time again, as the clock ticks and you’re forced to make difficult choices.
Impact Winter is a survival game that leaves you scavenging for resources in a frozen wasteland, after the Earth is struck by an asteroid. You play as Jacob Solomon, leading a group of survivors, holed up in a church. A robot, Ako-light, detects a mysterious transmission that says a rescue operation will take place in 30 days. And that’s your mission – keep everyone alive for the next 30 days.
In order to look for supplies, Jacob needs to leave the safety of the church and face the frigid winds. Now this wouldn’t seem much of a problem, but each member of the group has different levels that need to be kept in check, including health, morale, energy, temperature and thirst. You have to constantly juggle between the members, trying to keep them all alive while exploring the wasteland and completing the missions at the same time. This keeps your mind occupied and anxious for most of the time, as you keep trying to think of your next move.
The world in itself is quite gloomy. You come across remnants of what the place used to be before the calamity struck, which you can also use as landmarks to ease your navigation. There’s a sense of impending doom and every moment seems ominous, which is complemented by the soundtrack, creating tension and anxiety.
A majority of time in Impact Winter is spent exploring the Void (as the wasteland is known). There are certain tasks that would feel like a chore normally, like trekking through the snow for 10 minutes just to get a little food and fuel and then making your way back in order to keep the people warm and fed. But here, you feel driven to perform these tasks again and again, due to the seriousness and intensity of the situation. You’re constantly forced to think about what to gather and bring back as your inventory space is limited. There’s no fast travel either, which leaves you wondering whether the choices you make along the way will work out in your favour or not. That, added to the responsibility of keeping your group alive and sane is enough to have you pull your hair in anxiety.
The survivors in your group have some useful skills as well, which can make things a little easier for you. One can cook meals for the group, while one is good at repairing and upgrading things and so on. These characters have their own set of side missions, which in turn enhance their abilities.
The game is a constant struggle between maintaining a balance between your needs and the resources at hand. Do you want to carry rations on your next trek or leave it in the church and risk searching for more? The robot, Ako-light also comes handy in situations with its flashlight and scanner, but there as well you need to make sure you don’t use these abilities frivolously. Otherwise, you’re likely to be left stranded in the wasteland, using only your memory for most of the navigation. The game always encourages you to have a clear aim before you leave the safety of the church for your next mission.
As much as Impact Winter impresses with its setting and mechanics, its technical problems make things more difficult. There are long loading times and there are some issues with texture pop-in as well. At the time of launch, had a horde of issues with controls, including no mouse support in the menus, and problems with the controller support. The developers have been regularly releasing patches to fix these issues, and have a set roadmap prioritizing the different problems and have been quite transparent about it. Still, the existence of some of these technical issues in the first place has a negative impact on the game.
Impact Winter is a solemn, harrowing experience that does a great job of pitting you in a struggle to survive against all odds. It constantly forces you to think and creates an atmosphere of anxiety where you have no choice but to question every decision you make. It’s disappointing to see such an interesting game being brought down by technical problems, but the devs have been hard at work improving the experience, and have succeeded to a great extent. For the fans of the survival genre, it’s surely worth playing.