Impact Winter, the latest release from UK indie developer Mojo Bones, places you at the centre of a world that has descended into an endless snowstorm following the aftermath of an asteroid collision. Dubbed as a 'survival RPG adventure', Impact Winter tasks you with exploring the frosty apocalyptic wasteland, carrying out tasks for survivors, scavenging for crucial supplies, and making your own discoveries along the way.
Playing as protagonist Jacob Solomon, you lead a small team of skilled survivors who have taken refuge inside an old church to shelter from the icy conditions. Whilst things look bleak, there is a flicker of hope as your robot Ako-Light picks up on a distress signal and learns that there is a chance that you could be rescued. 30 days, however, is a long time to wait for help to arrive, so it's up to you to ensure survival for you and your team until the timer runs out. Surviving for the next month isn't going to be easy, though, as supplies remain scarce and wild animals and thieves roam the world outside.
Teamwork in Impact Winter is essential, as each member of your crew has their own skillset and can be used to craft new items if you do tasks for them. Blane is a survivalist and can help craft new traps; Wendy is the team's cook and can help with preparing more fulfilling meals; Chris is a technical expert and help you upgrade your Ako-Light; and Maggie's handy skills allow you to craft more efficient resources. It's not enough to simply care for your own needs, because if your team starts to feel unhappy they can slip into depression, break out into arguments, and even abandon the church with vital supplies. Whilst in a bad mood, team members can also take longer to craft items and their story arc can become temporarily unavailable. Here Impact Winter somewhat mirrors The Sims, as you're required to carefully monitor the needs of those within your camp and work to satisfy them.
Leveling up Ako-Light by finding points of interest, sustaining morale, and by completing quests can help shave considerable time off your counter too, increasing your likelihood of survival. By climbing up levels you'll unlock multiple new roles, which can be assigned to your teammates and deliver both positive and negative effects. One role, for example, may prevent members from getting injured whilst crafting, but may also work to increase crafting times. There are around 30 unlockable roles which we liked, because each works to shape your team's personality and we had a lot of fun toying with them until we found ones that suited us.
Venturing outside of the church sees the action displayed from a top-down perspective, opening up your view of the snow drizzled freeways, frosty lakes, and ransacked houses. On the outside, you can descend into icy caves or search through abandoned buildings for supplies, but these moments are often separated by lengthy load times. When braving the cold it's important to take note of the time of day as different creatures will emerge and temperatures can prove to be much harsher at night. Survivors and merchants can also be found out in the snow, who can offer you optional side quests and supplies. We wished, however, that fast travelling was an option, as it can often be a slog to walk from one side of the map to the other. That said, walking around endlessly in the snow did lead to many accidental moments of discovery, and it did help to simulate the sense of feeling lost and helpless.
There are also elements of inventory management as Jacob carries all but a small backpack. This means you'll undoubtedly have to make some tough calls with regards to which supplies you want to keep, especially when you factor in compulsory quest-specific items. You also have additional responsibilities as the leader of the group, and your other team members will turn to you to separate disputes, weigh in on their problems, and negotiate trade deals with other survivors. This makes effectively balancing your time both inside and outside of the church a must, as things can soon descend into chaos if you turn your back for too long.
Impact Winter's visuals sport a cartoony flair similar to that of The Witness and Firewatch, and this shines especially within the overworld, where snowstorms rage and thick blankets of the white stuff submerge your surroundings. The ambient soundtrack is also soothing, juxtaposing against the post-apocalyptic world you find yourself in, lending to what is actually quite a relaxing experience. Here the art direction and main score work to wonderfully complement each other, creating a world that is hauntingly beautiful, despite the struggle for survival (for more on this side of the game, head this way for our interviews with Mojo Bones and the game's composer, Mitch Murder).
If Jacob is to die before the 30 days expire you'll have to the restart the experience again with no second tries or options to load an earlier save. This doesn't feel too punishing, however, as with each time you'll become more familiar with your surroundings and learn to become a more skilled survivor. We felt that it could have been good to have an additional save slot, though, because if you take a large risk and it backfires there's no going back, but in this regard, Mojo Bones could have been seeking to simulate reality. What is particularly admirable is that no two playthroughs will be identical, as there's plenty of freedom handed to you with regards to your exploration and how you approach quests.
With Impact Winter, Mojo Bones has crafted a chilling mix of survival and RPG elements that makes for a unique experience each time you play. The snow smothered landscapes and excellent score make for a truly immersive experience, and it remains varied and engaging throughout, regardless of your chosen path to survival. It can become tedious moving between the overworld and loading times can work to disrupt the flow, but overall Impact Winter is a thoroughly enjoyable survival RPG with plenty of unique style and flair.
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