“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” – A.A. Milne
How We Know We’re Alive is a point-and-click mystery set in Härunga, a small industrial town in the bible belt of Sweden. Players take on the role of Sara, an aspiring writer returning home after 10 years in order to investigate the unexpected death of her estranged best friend Maria.
Developer: Motvind Studios
Released: 01st May 2021
Price: Name your own price
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Available on: itch.io
How We Know We’re Alive consists of fairly standard point-and-click gameplay using WASD/arrow keys and a mouse. There is no inventory but players can move between locations interacting with objects to trigger a comment, memory or explanation as well as interacting with people to initiate conversation. The main aim of which is to glean details about the night Maria died, decide who is telling the truth and what information is important in order to understand what happened.
The protagonist Sarah has been working in Stockholm for the last decade, following her dream of being a writer after a pregnancy meant her best friend Maria could not go with her. She returns to her home town a year after Maria’s tragic death in a car accident and soon gets the impression that there is something suspicious going on. Set in a small religious town in Sweden, How We Know We’re Alive features an eclectic bunch of characters including the long-serving teacher, the incompetent police officer and a bigoted shop assistant all of which have different opinions on the event and on Sara herself.
This short story has themes of love and loss, of growing up and growing apart and takes a look at human nature. It is a well-written narrative, telling a poignant and thoughtful tale with lots of emotion, diverse characters and even a bit of a twist.
How We Know We’re Alive’s visuals are made up of charming pixel art in a warm autumn colour palette and atmospheric lighting. Each scene is also intricately animated which really helps to bring the story to life and aid immersion. Equally, the sound effects, especially ambient noises such as the rain, really work to connect the player to the game world. This is also true for the beautifully emotive soundtrack by Ivan Starenius, which ranges from serene and melancholy tunes with a slight mystical sound to eerier and more dramatic pieces and reflects the tone of the game well.
Overall, How We Know We’re Alive is a fun and thought-provoking experience, taking the player on a mystery-solving adventure whilst also delivering a moving and emotive narrative and some stunning artwork. It will only take about an hour to play and is available for free and these low-risk aspects just make it even easier to recommend!
For other games set in Sweden why not try:
Year Walk – Generation Zero
Or check out this interview with Swedish game developer Acke Hallgren:
What Never Was: Chapter II – Developer Interview