Every farm has a gnome, or at least they should. You give them porridge and treat them right and they take care of the farm for you. And if you’re pregnant and a troll wants to put a changeling in your home and take your baby, then the gnome will take care of it as well. This is just what you have to do in Midwinter!
Developer: Talecore Studios
Publisher: Talecore Studios
Release Date: May 2016
Played: Full game (2 of 3 endings)
Purchase At: Steam
Midwinter’s developer, Talecore Studios, is a one-woman indie game studio. Anna Jenelius made the game over the course of six months. That is damn well impressive. Beyond anything else, it’s an impressive feat, even considering the game is really good.
The plot is simple: you have to work around the farm, fixing things for the humans and do your best to vanquish the troll. It’s a straightforward yet lovely tale drawing heavily from Scandinavian folklore. Beyond the gnome, there are different spirits, sprites and other ancient beings living around the farm. The gnome can speak with animals and one of his best friends is a cat, though the kitty spends the entire game sleeping.
Unlike other adventure games where you click on the environment to move, in Midwinter you click on objects to observe or interact with them, and in the latter case your little gnome will shuffle towards it. And I do mean shuffle, as he walks extremely slowly. Going through a long field towards an item can take a few minutes as the little guy makes his way there. This gets some explanation in lore as they state the Gnome is very weak and frail. In fact, as you help around the farm some of his strength returns and it might have been my imagination but he seemed to walk a little faster.
Puzzles are straightforward, quite simple really, but the challenge is in completing as many as you can in as little time as possible. You only have two nights of activity before the troll returns on the third for your final battle. Moving takes time and even going from place to place with the map takes a chunk of your allotted hours.
I absolutely adore the visual style and the music. I want the soundtrack for this game. The melodies are beautiful. The voice acting is not bad though it’s clear that the voice actors aren’t native English speakers, though that oddly adds some authenticity to it all. Some of the voice actors are nice, particularly the one for the troll and the spirit of the stream, but the Lady of the Forest and our protagonist lack strength in their performances.
The visuals have a fantastic storybook quality to them that made me think of it as a tale I would one day tell my children. I could almost picture a Midwinter children’s book where I tell them the story. The characters and environments seemed to me to be made of paper, straight out of a children’s book and it’s a fantastic aesthetic choice.
The major downside to the game is how short it is. Getting through the game takes an hour at most, and even achieving all three or four endings will keep it under five hours. But, much like it was for me with the Charnel House Trilogy, it’s not the length of the game but the quality.
Midwinter is a short game, true, but it’s good. I particularly loved the pretty nice classic folklore tale plot.
3.5/5 – Good!