The first time I played this game was a quick demo at PAX in Melbourne last year. I was immediately enchanted by the look and gameplay that immediately invited me to slow down and take a minute to breathe, play and reflect. I had just moved to Melbourne not 3 days earlier and for several months my life was a whirlwind of packing, saying goodbye to friends and family, leaving my job that I loved and exchanging a life of beach side luxury to an inner city adventure. The timing of my first play of this game I believe, was serendipitous.
The Stillness Of The Wind is set on a farm, you control the character of Talma who runs a family farm in the country, all of her relatives and friends have moved away to the city leaving her to run the family on her own. During the day you take out an array of farming chores like collecting milk and turning it into cheese, feeding the animals, collecting eggs and petting your animals so they are happy. Information comes in the form of letters from family that are delivered to your mailbox and interactions with a mailman and travelling trader occur daily. The macabre tone of the story are further solidified by the simplistic controls and feeling of seperation as the more letters and interactions you have get stranger as the game moves on.
Having moved here, I left everything and everyone I loved behind, it was a frightening and incredibly lonely experience, having this game to play in hand really spoke to what I was going through. While I collected letters in the game from family, I read text messages and Facebook IM’s from my own family. I collected eggs and cheese from my in game animals, I bought fresh eggs and food from farmers from the Queen Victoria Markets. The game seemed to be existing in some alignment with my new life and I sympathised with the pain and loss of living away from the ones you love. The game however revels in the mundane, Talma loves her farm and is dedicated to its upkeep and routine.
The controls are fairily basic, I reviewed this on the Nintendo Switch with cursor based movement and action button keeps things pretty tame, while this does work for the game, it can seem fairly basic for some and was my only complaint about the game. Now if you know anything about me, you know that my favourite game of all time is Stardew Valley, while I knew that this game wasn’t going to be the same, I did enjoy that the goal of this game was not to build up your farm and revel in your earnings. There is a time element and a definite finish to the main story (only a few hours long) but the entire experience of isolation, time and family echoes through gorgeous animation, a well told story and journey that you will want to experience.
The Stillness Of The Wind gave solace to my craziness during a turmoilic time in my life. It forced me to slow down, to realise that while my family and friends are far away, they will always be close to me and that time doesn’t have to be something that is fast and fleeting. It is rare that a game crosses over from game to art, The Stilness Of The Wind breaks that barrier to deliver one of the most beautiful works of art available on the Nintendo Switch right now. It is also available on Steam.
Review by Alaisdair “Leithal” Leith