#167 Midwinter

Posted: 14th January 2013 by Jeroen in Games
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209th played so far

Genre: Action/Role Playing
Platform: PC/Amiga/Atari
Year of Release: 1989
Developer: Maelstrom Games
Publisher: Microplay Software

Some games look and sound just a bit different – slightly off, with an interesting concept and mechanics that make you want to try them. Not necessarily a game that will become a favourite, not one I might even come back to, but one that you want to play, see what it’s like. Something to add to the experience of different games as we’ve been playing them.

Midwinter is one of these. I’m vaguely reminded of Fallout or Wasteland when reading the plot – post-nuclear world, you have to survive and take down the big bad. This time, however, it’s first person, you need to recruit your guys, and there’s a lot more action to it. Intriguing, to say the least.

Our Thoughts

Back, again, to unclear gameplay, dated graphics and no help when you start. Yet, unlike Skool Daze four days ago, here it works.

The controls here are as quirky, although mostly more sensible. The difficulty in this is more defensible anyway, as there is more to do. You start off doing a lot of skiing, hopefully usually sped up by using a snow mobile. You have to watch your exhaustion (or fuel) while doing so, although the main downside of getting tired is that you need to rest up for a bit. Same thing if you get hurt, by the way – there’s no death, something that makes the game a lot more bearable. Sure, easier too, but knowing the games of this time, I actually appreciate this bit of mercy.

The game doesn’t really start off until you’ve started recruiting. You start with one character, but due to the amount of travel necessary, and the ways of failure that are possible (stuck tired in the middle of nowhere, captured by the enemy, or just being completely lost) you need the help from your colleagues. Not just that, it speeds up gameplay a lot (plus you get to ski as a helpful old lady!)

The game is semi-turn based. Each of your character gets to play for two hours (the same two hours), after which they all need to check in and give a status report. This makes it fairly straightforward to make use of all of them without forgetting or missing your chance to do something.

You do need all the help you can get. Your opponent’s troops move quickly in taking over the settlements, while raids cross the island trying to bring you down. Death, as said, isn’t permanent, but it’s annoying enough that you don’t want it to happen.

Unfortunately, it takes a while before you can recruit. Whether or not you can recruit a character depends on who comes for them, and your starting character isn’t necessarily well liked. This means that before you can do much, you need to spend time winning people over your side – an annoyance, especially in how time consuming it is.

From there on though, you can blow up factories and take up sniping as much as you want and the fun starts – quite addictively so. It’s a simple game, but plays nicely.

Whilst playing this one thing that came across my mind is how awsome a remake of this could be. Revamped graphics, ambient music and other things could really help to play up the utter desolation that is the world of Midwinter. A snowier version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road with optional cannibals is what I am going for here. The game already had an insanely large world (for the time this is gigantic) so imagine that expanded to Skyrim proportions but just bleak with the occasional forest fire… I want to make this!

Final Thoughts

Fantasies of making a foray iunto the world of game designers aside Midwinter has obviously been a huge influence on many great games and the fact that it still plays well 20-odd years later is a real testament to the original developers… but if I see a game like the oe I dreampt at E3 2013 or 2014 I am going to sue!