“Sounds of life and movement, (…) the sound of hope and the sound of hanging on, and behind them all, the quiet, deadly ticking of a thousand hungry clocks, the lonely sound of time passing.” – Hunter S. Thompson
Developer: Memory of God
Released: February 2019
The Stillness of the Wind is a relaxing and meditative survival game about life and loss. It centres around Talma, who, having watched the land around her change and the people she loved move on, remains in solitude on her farmstead. She leads a simple but content life, persistently filling her days with routine, looking after her home and caring for her adorable goats and chickens!
The player takes on the role of Talma, managing the farm and supplies, and deciding what she will do each day. Potential tasks include things such as growing flowers and vegetables, picking mushrooms, exploring the desert, or milking the goats to make cheese. There are also semi-regular visits from a wandering merchant with whom you can barter for other goods, such as hay, as well as receiving news about family and having a much needed moment of social interaction!
The controls are simple and intuitive with all actions being completed with just the left and right mouse buttons. However, while the game is quite forgiving there are eventual repercussions to neglecting certain tasks, for example, if Talma does not have enough produce to barter with she is unable to get hay and the goats will be hungry. Likewise, she also requires food and is unable to work on an empty stomach.
The Stillness of the Wind is not a fast-paced game by any stretch of the imagination, overall progression, narrative delivery and even Talma’s walking speed all require some patience from the player. Similarly, there is very little action, with tasks being carried out methodically and without urgency and only a sprinkling of dramatic moments. While some may appreciate the calming nature of the experience, it’s likely that others will strongly dislike the game for this reason alone.
The subtle but emotional narrative is drip-fed to the player via letters that Talma receives, memories sparked by interactions with objects and conversations with the merchant, which all serve to provide insight about Talma, her family and her life up until now. This style of delivery is understated but effective and serves to emphasise the protagonist’s isolation and the struggle of continuing to do everything alone, especially when the environment and circumstances work against her and begin to make things much more challenging.
For such a seemingly simple game, The Stillness of the Wind encompasses some fairly complex motifs. It lulls the player into a false sense of security with the twee surface-level concept and jolly visuals before delving into themes such as the passing of time, loneliness, family, loss, hope and depression. While this can feel bleak at times, the contrast and surprise create some truly poignant and thought-provoking moments.
The combination of simple but cute, low-poly models, gentle camera movement, and seasonal colour palettes that range from bright and jovial to muted and mysterious, make for a generally wholesome aesthetic. This is made all the more atmospheric with clever use of ambient lighting and stark shading.
The audio aspects of The Stillness of the Wind work in harmony with the rest of the game. The soundtrack is calming, and while it has a positive feel to it overall, there is also a subtle melancholy to the music that hints at the deeper aspect of the experience. Sound effects are also used well, wildlife noises such as small birds and owls, nighttime threats, the morning rooster, weather and bleating goats all help to solidify the setting and help create immersion for the player.
Taking around 3-4 hours to complete, the Stillness of the Wind is a uniquely meditative and surprisingly deep experience, that combines a range of genres in an innovative and entertaining way. It is a beautiful game, a clear labour of love (and it has goats) making it easy to recommend with the proviso that players are aware of the pacing and activity levels as it will definitely not be to everyone’s tastes. It is the perfect suggestion for anyone wishing to relax and sink themselves into a game that is engaging but without urgency but still packs a punch emotionally.