Last Days of Snow is a Nordic narrative thriller with style and potential
Chances of completion are flakier.
EGX 2019 has come and gone, so here's our final write up. Over the past few days we've beenbe bringing you quickfire impressions of some of the highlights from the show floor up at London's ExCel centre. You'll find them all here - and if there's anything out there you want to bring to our attention let us know!
I like where Last Days of Snow is headed. It's a Norwegian narrative thriller about a 12-year-old boy who isn't quite what he seems. He lives in a fairly normal-looking, snowy suburb with his mother but he has strange dreams. He dreams in what looks like ASCII and he temporarily loses a kind of connection with the real world. And judging by a worried phone call his mother makes, there's a worrying bigger picture in play.
I gleaned this from a stylish demo at EGX 2019. It begins with the ASCII dream, which you control as if playing an old ASCII game, yet as you solve simple door-opening puzzles and fill your connection gauge, a 3D world materialises before you. Now you control the boy in a kind of dream world, a verdant forest, until you jump down a well and the camera fades to black. Then, the fade to black becomes the boy's pupil in his eye and the camera zooms out to show him sleeping in his bed. It continues to pull back to show his room and then his house, and then his mother on the phone in the hallway. The characters are impressively rendered and the mother's performance is well captured and voiced.
We skip a cinematic interlude (for demo purposes) until finally we land in the boy's boots in his dark, snow-piled town - based on the town the game's makers grew up in. The demo then peters out as we plod around his surroundings getting a feel for the general atmosphere. It's off-kilter in the way you might expect an Alan Wake or Remedy game to be - no surprise given the Nordic link. It's gentle and foreboding, if you like. Content to let a mystery sink in, rather than ram it down your throat.
The team tells me more about the story and there are some captivating ideas (which I don't want to spoil because they're the whole point of a game like this). But what worries me is exactly that: they're only ideas. I'm playing a tech demo built to attract a publisher, which this game sorely needs. A Norwegian grant got it this far but a publisher will need to do the rest, ideally managing the ambitions of the small, youthful team making it. Encouragingly, the team apparently had promising meetings at EGX 2019.
It's also a team I eventually realise I've met before - at EGX in 2017, again demoing a promising-looking narrative thriller. That one was called Falling Sky (Vic wrote about it at the time) but that one never saw the light of day. Apparently this was something to do with it being a university project with uncertain IP ownership. The upshot was Falling Sky falling and Last Days of Snow being created instead.
But will Last Days of Snow go the whole way? It probably depends on a publisher. Optimistically, it's got a 2021 release date. I'll cross my fingers for it.