by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Supporting local farmers is often an important topic here in Australia, especially with everything that farmers go through. Floods often follow lengthy droughts, and when the younger generation heads off to the larger cities for further education, it is often the older generation that works hard to keep the farm going, The Stillness of the Wind is a farming game where one such member of this older generation is keeping her small farm running all by herself.
The elderly Talma toddles around her patch of dry land milking her goats, collecting eggs from her chickens, scouring the surrounding land for mushrooms, tending her small crops and making cheese. She lives a lonely life, with the only human contact coming in the form of a travelling trader. Although farming is the emphasis, The Stillness of the Wind is a game that incorporates loneliness and survival.
A new day dawns
Each day begins with Talma walking out the door of her little cottage, but it is up to you how you go about your daily tasks. There are no objectives as such, and no instructions on what you need to do, so you are left to learn as you go. As mentioned, the game is often about survival. Talma needs to make enough food for herself, whilst also making sure that her goats do not run out of food themselves. The goats are probably her most valuable resource, providing her with milk, which can then be turned into cheese. Planting seeds and visiting the well to collect water for them is also important, as these crops provide a certain level of nourishment for the old lady. The crops take a little while to grow though, so there is a level of accomplishment watching them grow.
The highlight of Talma’s day is perhaps the daily visit of the local trader. He is also the pseudo-postman, as he delivers letters to Talma from relatives who have moved away from the farm for a variety of reasons. Although the letters tell the story of Talma’s loved ones, it does seem to increase the sense of loneliness that Talma would be feeling on the once thriving farm. The trader also allows Talma to sell her goods and buy supplies that she requires to keep the farm running. This is done via a bartering system that takes a while to work out the value of goods.
The visuals continue the melancholy feel of the story. The game is full of orange, brown and yellow shades with the advent of evening bringing about the lengthening darker shadows. The day and night cycles work wonderfully well to give a sense of when Talma needs to be heading back to her little cabin for a bite to eat and some much-needed rest. Night falls, and then the sun rises again, and the cycle continues.
The Stillness of the Wind will not suit everyone. It is a game that is somewhat devoid of excitement. It is probably a closer example of a farming simulator than games such as Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley and their bright colours and fast-growing crops. It is more than that though. It is a game of survival, for both the elderly Talma, and for the animals that she tends. It is a game of loss as well, as we learn about all the family that lived on the farm but have left the nest. The Stillness of the Wind is relaxing though, allowing you to wander about doing your daily tasks however you please, but without goals to aim for, there is often the feel of emptiness which can lead to the game feeling a tad dull.
Relaxing atmosphere, play at your own pace
No real tutorial, lack of direction