Published on February 15th, 2019 | by Hugh Mitchell
The Stillness of the Wind Review
Summary: The Stillness of the Wind tells a moving tale of an elderly woman living alone on a small, isolated farm.
Call your Nanna
It’s important to mention up front that you can’t beat The Stillness of the Wind. There is a conclusion to the story, yes, but it’s one that comes with the fullness of time in the game world, rather than your actions as a player. In this regard, I consider The Stillness of the Wind to be a rather uninteresting game, but also an unforgettable experience.
In The Stillness of the Wind, you play as Talma: an elderly woman living a humble life of solitude on a small farm in the middle of nowhere. Talma is also a grandmother, a sister and a friend to numerous loved ones that have long since left the farm for modern pursuits in faraway lands. As you spend the day tending to the farm and completing various chores, a travelling merchant will pass by and deliver letters from various family members for you to read. These letters not only detail the lives of Talma’s loved ones, they also paint a picture of life in these far-off lands.
The narrative of The Stillness Of The Wind is delivered through these letters and through Talma’s internal monologue as she ponders the features of her family farmstead. At first, the narrative is heart warming and touching. You feel the tender connection between Talma and her granddaughter when she writes to her grandmother about her graduation, or when an old friend writes to reminisce of childhood memories.
Yet as time goes on, the letters begin to detail turmoil and hardships that the various characters are facing, which greatly affects Talma and leads to terrifying nightmares. You begin to dread the daily delivery of more bad news and you feel Talma’s sense of independence and love for her family turn to helplessness and isolation. It’s a powerfully moving narrative delivered from a unique perspective as you experience this strange, lonesome life through the eyes of a grandmother.
Unfortunately, the actual gameplay that fills the time between mail deliveries is nowhere near as engaging as the narrative in The Stillness of the Wind. Talma is an elderly woman that lives on a small farm with two goats and a few chickens. The chickens lay eggs that can be collected and the goats can be milked to produce cheese. These products can be traded with the travelling merchant for more hay to feed the goats, seeds to cultivate or items to decorate the farmstead.
Despite the farm being relatively small and these tasks being rather simple to perform, Talma’s slow movement makes completing these chores an absolute bore. Couple this with the rather limited activities available for you to engage with throughout the day and the gameplay ends up feeling like an annoying obligation required to progress the story.
But before you get into the story or start plodding around the farm, what really draws you into The Stillness of the Wind is its visual design. The game uses an admirably cohesive colour palette of reds and yellows with minimalist 3D models and an incredible lighting engine to create a game world that looks downright gorgeous. The dynamic lighting also adds fantastic ambiance to the setting and you truly feel the sense of isolation as the sun sets and the shadows grow long, leaving the whole land in almost complete darkness.
It’s worth noting that this gorgeous-looking engine can occasionally produce some minor graphics and gameplay issues. Particularly when playing on the Nintendo Switch in portable mode, the already choppy framerate can drop significantly during certain events. Plus there are a number of issues with AI getting stuck on objects or losing interaction that seem to crop up every now and then.
The Stillness of the Wind is a fascinating product. It tells an interesting, emotionally arresting story from the unique perspective of a protagonist that is rarely seen in video games. Unfortunately, the gameplay isn’t quite as impressive as the narrative or the setting and instead feels as laborious as the chores you’re instructing Talma to perform. Yet despite the boring gameplay, the gripping story and fantastic visuals were enough to keep me wholly interested in the three-hour ordeal, and for that I can easily recommend The Stillness of the Wind to anyone looking for a unique, plodding gameplay experience.