If you would rather listen to my thoughts on the game while watching some gameplay, you can check out my video review below.
Impact Winter is a survival game that will show you just how hard winter can hit, and its title is an apt one in more ways than one. The harsh conditions that you must endure in the game are brought about by a destructive asteroid collision. Get your snowshoes ready because the main objective of the game is to stay alive for 30 days as you wait to be rescued from a frozen tundra called The Void. You’ll also do well to pack some patience in your survival kit as some gameplay and technical issues mar what is an otherwise pretty enjoyable experience.
Scavengers R Us
Players must assume the role of a man named Jacob as he leads a team of four other survivors who are taking shelter in a church. Jacob is tasked with journeying out into the white expanse in order to find food, water, and items that can be used to better the situation. He is joined by a robot companion named Ako-Light whenever he leaves the church. Ako-Light can do various things that aid in exploration, including drilling through ice, scanning for items, and keeping track of landmarks on its radar. Each teammate has their own unique abilities as well, along with their own preferences. They each contribute to the group as a whole in different ways. For example, Maggie is able to upgrade and fortify the church in various ways while Blane can make items that will help you stay alive outside the walls of the church. It is important to keep the teammates safe, healthy, and happy in order to be able to utilise their skills over the course of the 30 days. Figuring out how to use each companion’s skill set efficiently while trying to keep everyone alive makes for a great hook in your leadership role as Jacob.
You will learn more about the four team members as you complete various tasks that are assigned as part of each individual’s “storyline.” Completing the storyline quests for each survivor usually gives you access to new craftable objects or items that aid in survival. For instance, Maggie’s first storyline quest has you finding parts to build a furnace that is more effective at keeping the cold at bay. Completing assigned tasks is just one of the ways to earn RP (rescue points), which allow Jacob to level up. Each time he levels up, the rescue timer actually decreases and you are able to choose a role to unlock. Roles are additional abilities that can be assigned to any of the teammates. Each role has a pro and a con though, so it is important to think things through before assigning them.
One of them definitely won't be eating tonight
In order to keep Jacob and the others alive, careful attention must be paid to each survivor’s health, energy, temperature, hunger, thirst, and morale. As the leader, you must also ration the supplies that are brought back to the church. This is possibly the trickiest part of lasting long enough to be rescued. The meter management can be quite stressful early on, but it is an extremely satisfying feeling knowing that there are enough supplies in the church to keep everyone alive and content for even just one more day. The moments of pure joy when new landmarks full of supplies are discovered must be experienced to be fully understood, especially when food and water are running low. Scavenging for supplies and discovering new, item-rich locations are definitely high points in Impact Winter. Unfortunately, there are also a few lows that are hard to ignore.
There is a considerable amount of walking to be done in Impact Winter because of the constant need for food and water, among other things. This is understandable given the broad amount of land you are able to traverse, so that isn’t an issue. What is an issue though, is the game’s constant stuttering whenever you decide to venture out into The Void. Running around outdoors from place to place is never a smooth experience, and that should not be the case in a game that encourages and requires constant exploration. This lack of smoothness is compounded by slowdown that occurs when exiting loading screens. This is especially noticeable when having to constantly exit and re-enter areas while scavenging. The game also suffers from input delay in menus and when selecting highlighted objects in the world. Moreover, although it only happened once, the worst issue of them all was when an important quest objective was invisible, therefore unable to be interacted with. Sadly, this resulted in the death of one of my teammates.
As long as they didn't take any water, it's fine
It may seem odd, but despite the technical issues, Impact Winter does do a good job of immersing the player in the survivors’ situation. Outside of quests, the game does not tell you where to scavenge at all. You will need to have clear objectives in mind whenever you step foot outside the church. If you don’t, you could end up wandering aimlessly until one of Jacob’s meters deplete, or Ako-Light runs out of power. In the former case, Jacob will begin to lose health slowly until he dies. In the latter case, you will lose access to the radar and have to return home using your own memory of where the church is located.
This immersion also extends to the four companions. If their morale is too low, they may refuse to do tasks assigned to them, or even leave the church altogether. If their hunger or thirst is too low, they might take food or drinks from storage even if the items were not rationed out. Instances of realism such as these make it slightly easier to forget about some of the more minor technical problems, at least for a little while.
Impact Winter has a total of 24 achievements that can be a bit difficult to obtain if you aren’t willing to put many hours into the game. No player has completed the game yet at the time of this review. The achievements are straightforward yet time-consuming. Most of them involve completing the companions’ storylines and crafting upgrades. Once you know where to scavenge and what craftable items are more useful than others, you should be able to stay alive while going for the completion.
SummaryImpact Winter can be an immersive survival game for those who are able to look past the technical issues that could possibly hurt the gameplay for some. Stepping out into The Void in order to scavenge numerous locations while trying to keep your team alive means having to brave the constant stuttering. Discovering new landmarks is addictive, but the odd loading screen slowdown along with some other grating issues threaten to overshadow what should be a tense and gripping experience.
- Scavenging is addictive
- Companions behave realistically
- Micromanaging rations is a good kind of stressful
- Constant stuttering in The Void
- Slowdown after load screens
- Input delay
- Invisible objectives
EthicsThis reviewer spent 18 hours fighting winter, even though winter likes to take cheap shots. 8 out of 24 achievements were obtained while surviving. An Xbox One download code was provided for the purpose of this review.
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