The Nintendo Switch has had very few arty games on it, and for a console that is so accessible for people to play on, I’m actually fairly surprised by this. Instead, the Switch has predominantly been used for ports of rubbish mobile games, with a few excellent titles thrown in to make it worthwhile. However, seeking to make an impact on this front is a team of indie developers and their game The Stillness of the Wind, which sees you play as a grandmother on a farm, whose family has long since departed to the big city, and her life.
What The Stillness of the Wind portrays best of all is the tranquillity of the farm on which your character, Talma, lives. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and she’s joined only by her animals, a couple of goats and a handful of chickens. Occasionally you’ll get a visitor who you can trade with to purchase necessary supplies for your farm or who will provide you with the post, should you have a letter. These letters are the only real insight into what live was like for Talma prior to the game starting, so they provide some interesting touches to a game in which you’re largely left to your own devices.
By that, I mean that you are able to do largely as you please to pass the time. You can milk the goats if you want, then use that to make some cheese, or you can grow some vegetables on your humble little farmstead. You can even just spend your time keeping your farm nice and tidy, and acting as a scarecrow by chasing the birds away. There’s a certain charm to being mostly alone in the vast nothingness of your abode, spending your days as you please and just waiting for some news from your family, where-ever they may be.
The major thing I found troubling with The Stillness of the Wind was the user interface. Some of it was fine, the cursor changing to highlight different actions you can perform was nice, but mostly it was pretty poor. If you can’t perform an action, for example, Talma just shakes her head – which is all well and good, but from behind, you can’t really tell that’s what she’s doing, and you’re left constantly trying to force her to do something she doesn’t want to do. There’s also the major issue I found when I was playing it handheld on the Switch – the text is tiny. Even with my glasses on it was a struggle to read some of the items I had in my inventory. Thankfully, letters and interactions with the mailman are in much larger font, but making trades or your dinner is a challenge for those who have eyes like mine.
I also found the game a bit rudderless. I can certainly appreciate that they were going for some arty message in it all, but there really wasn’t that much that made me want to stick around. Receiving a handful of letters to try to push the narrative along while not really giving you any direction on what you should be doing just felt extremely dull. There’s only so much milking of the goats, or roaming the vast wasteland around the farm that one can do.
The Final Word
I’m sure The Stillness of the Wind will receive high praise from reviewers more attuned to the arty feel of the game, but I want a game to make me want to return to it. This one doesn’t do that, it just bores me rigid. It does have some redeeming factors, but I’m definitely leaning more towards the crowd of “this bores me” than anything.