Monday, November 7, 2016

First Impressions: Feel the Snow

Feel the Snow
Developer/Publisher: Owlet

DISCLAIMER: This game is still in Early Access. All thoughts and opinions therein are related to the game during its development state. Features/content are subject to change and not a final representation of the game.

People are quick to point out the bad and rarely mention when something like Early Access actually works. While there is quite a few disasters on EA, every once in a while we get a gem that glides under the radar. Feel the Snow has quite a bit to overcome, not only being on Early Access but it also is a survival crafting game which has become indicative with abadonware or extreme development delays.

That being said, I am happy to say that Feel the Snow is one of those gems that flew under the radar. Trust me when I say I feel the snow and it feels good. Not only is the game already fun but it has polished mechanics such as an easy to grasp crafting system, quests, massive exploration, difficult combat, skill trees/abilities, fishing/farming and more to come. The beauty of Feel the Snow is rather simple, this feels like a complete game that you could play for a LONG time before hitting any indication that more content is needed. I've played close to a dedicated eight hours and still have recipes being discovered left and right with more quests to go and plenty to be seen.

Feel the Snow drops you in the middle of a destroyed village without a word or clue as to what is going on. When the game starts its abrupt, like you feel you hit a button and missed a tutorial, but you didn't. Now there is a survivor in town that can do a little bit of guiding and help you but I actually missed this survivor for my first hour and a half or so of gameplay. I was left unaware and without a clue of what to do. So I did the first thing that came naturally, gather some sticks.

All the instincts you have for these types of games is correct and playing this title felt like putting on a comfortable glove. It wasn't long before I had basic tools, the beginnings of a home, and a farm.

Now while I won't go into great detail about all the mechanics,(because the game isn't done yet) I want to mention the beauty of the games crafting system. The crafting system is simple, easy to use, but prevents you from becoming a turtle and hiding behind walls. You are only given a handful of starting recipes and must face and overcome the monsters, wildlife, and surroundings to advance in any form. While your simple wooden shack will do the trick for the most part, if you want anything more refined, you've got to prepare for battle. This is something I really enjoy about Feel the Snow, you always feel pushed to progress. You can take your sweet time but there is a wall you hit for progression.

Our main character is a shiny white snow person so it is only befitting that at midnight the nightmares come out to play. Almost an exact opposite of your visage, the nightmares are beings of pure darkness, some with grotesque smiles.  Upon appearing they immediately attack and will more then likely kill you eventually. Not to fret as currently there is no penalty for death. However, watching the clock and coming up with a daily routine and plan becomes important. Find yourself facing the local wildlife and nightmares at the same time and death is almost assured.

For everything that Feel the Snow is doing right, there are improvements that are needed. The combat being one of the primary areas that will take some getting familiar with and can be the most frustrating.
The game is played from an over the top view and due to the way movement works in this game, aiming weapons is not an easy task. Enemies that come at you from an angle are always going to require you back off and come at them straight on. Swords do have a bit of an arc but the hit box of enemies seems very small; using a bow is highly difficult as well. The combat just comes off feeling unwieldy and feels like it needs refinement. Once you adapt it becomes easier but sometimes the finer points of combat does rear its ugly head in a bad way.

Other areas could use a bit of a touch up as well. Using tools removes your shield, requiring you to manually equip it again and again. Abilities are currently assigned to the same action bar as items, it all becomes very muddled.

Graphically the game works but because most of the game is white, it can come off very muted. There is a definite lack of color, some of the later areas alleviate this a bit but that is a good amount into the game. The monsters have great personality to their sprites but structures and the main character I find need a bit more charm. The main character kinda just looks like a freaky alien swinging a sword. It's not a huge gripe but its just these minor details stack up. It would help maybe if they put the hats you crafted actually on the sprite itself. Perhaps show a little bit more green on the trees. I understand that snow does literally cover everything but aesthetically it doesn't please the eye seeing nothing but shades of white and blue.

Oh I shouldn't also forget to mention the games Co-op mode which allows you to adventure with a friend through multiple connection methods including Steam, LAN, and IP LAN. So mad props for that as well.

All those are minor issues and despite those it doesn't really take away from how much fun I had with Feel the Snow. If you bought the game now at $8.99 you will get your bang for your buck. The game is programmed well, plays well, and has plenty of room for awesome potential. Trading to refine, Town reconstruction(Already kinda there but more so), dungeons, bosses, and much more.
So while buying any Early Access game is always a risk, I feel safe in saying that you could buy this one and enjoy what is there right now. You can't say that for many of its brethren. I encourage you to check it out especially if you're a fan of games with combat akin to Zelda, Stardew Valley, Secrets of Grindea or generally enjoy crafting survival games.

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