An asteroid has smashed into earth and an apocalypse has befallen our world, leaving our poor planet covered in snow, plunged into freezing cold temperatures. Most of the planet's population perished under the weight of the snow, but yet some still managed to survive. Help is nowhere to be found, though. Or is it?
Mojo Bones' Impact Winter tells an interesting story about surviving in the void. The game's protagonist, Jacob Solomon, manages to make his way through his icy surroundings after hearing voices, and thus he finds himself in an abandoned church with four other survivors. Soon it's revealed that there's a distress signal coming from somewhere, and it promises to help Jacob and the others. The catch: they're going to have to wait 30 days to find out if it's true. Now all they've got to do is survive the freezing winter, and with very limited resources.
The signal in question is captured by Ako-Light, a robot companion who is important to the groups survival in more ways than one. Ako-Light can drill through the frozen ground, send search signals into the void, show a radar map of the surrounding area, and he's got a few more equally helpful tricks up his metallic sleeve. At first the gameplay seems simple enough, but eventually more factors come into play. Each of the team members has some special skills that must be put to good use. The only character that the player controls is Jacob, whose job it is to scavenge the surroundings with Ako-Light, hunting for resources and materials (check out the interview at the end of this article for details relating to the other characters).
Things quickly change, however. The characters are not alone, and we're not just talking about the signal. Different NPCs with side-quests roam the environment, and also later in the game, there's some hostile animals to contend with. The group of survivors in the church are not without their needs either, and managing their food, water and sleep is the key to their survival. Keeping the team alive, crafting new materials, upgrading Ako-Light, adventuring in the world, and defending yourself from the wilds; there's a lot of work to do during the next month!
The more Ako-Light is upgraded and the more things are crafted, the more of the world the player gets to see. The void opens its secrets one by one, which keeps the game moving forward.
One of the most interesting aspects of the game was how the gameplay and narrative seemed to change when focusing on the different side characters. From the surviving group of characters, each has their own story that the player can follow. This way, in subsequent play-throughs, different choices lead to different conclusions, and as we were told, no two play-throughs are ever going to be the same. One pass through the game is supposed to take somewhere around 12 hours, and the game features online leaderboards for speedrunners who want to try and get that number down.
The version we got to play might have been an early build, but it still showed off the game's different elements pretty well. Given how many tasks the player is given to solve and keep track of, everything seemed to work quite well and everything felt accessible. The interface has a lot of things going on, but ultimately all of your important tasks are easy to find and manage. The top-down view is a good choice for enabling easier exploration, and the game plays smoothly. The characters are very nicely designed, and everything has its own distinctive look.
There were some slight problems, though. Shortly after we had solved some disagreements between our friends in the church, we went out and started exploring, but it didn't take long before a new ruckus had begun which required our attention. There was way too much going back and forth between the church and the outside world when it came to keeping the group together. Whether that's something that can be tweaked ahead of launch remains to be seen.
Otherwise things were looking good. The concept is clever and even though managing the needs of the characters felt like an apocalyptic version of The Sims at times, for the most part we liked what we saw. How deep the void goes remains to be seen, but we'll find out when the PC version of the game is launched in late April 2017. (There was also talk about the studio's plans to release the game on console at some point, but the team couldn't give an exact time frame for that.)
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