Review – SEASON: A Letter to the Future
Season: A Letter to the Future, an indie title from Scavengers Studio, is a beautifully told journey of internal and external discovery. Look, I totally get it. I really do. We’ve been there, right? We’ve all Gone Home at some point. We are all aware of What Remains of Edith Finch. Artistic indies about self-discovery are nothing new anymore, but if we didn’t enjoy those more calming titles, those tiny oases of calm, then we wouldn’t be in this review. Right?
Starting your literal journey is where SEASON: A Letter to the Future kicks off. A season is coming to an end. Not a season of a year, but a season of a life, or many. An ending of one decades-long period of time, punctuated by a cataclysmic event. Giving birth to something new. You take this season’s looming end as a reason to explore and document all you find, record the people you talk to, and to capture life before it’s gone. You allow yourself to do this, and to vault your findings for future seasons.
Talking, exploring, documenting, and recording isn’t just my simplification of the story, it IS the entirety of the gameplay mechanic. You begin in Caro village, your home. After learning the basics of conversing, viewing items, and capturing photographs and audio recordings, you mount your bicycle and head out into the big unknown expanse. You make your way through towns and villages, seeing remnants of seasons past and meeting people to talk with, cataloging it all.
Some items and settings prompt you to learn more, beckoning you to come close with a button prompt. Many more are simply there waiting to be discovered, or not, by a passer-by taking out their camera or recorder in hopes to capture an intriguing tale from a random point of interest. If SEASON: A Letter to the Future is about nothing else, it is about unforced discovery. Like a diary, its pages are as full as you want them to be.
Graphically, SEASON: A Letter to the Future is stunning in its basic watercolor presentation. Every object is two to three colors: its color and its shaded color. Wind breathes through the grass, and sunsets dance across a lake’s wide breadth. Equally as basic in premise, but fantastic in presentation, is its use of ambient sound, where the game truly lives. A creek, a sheep, a toad, wind chimes; the world breathes all around you. It’s always subtle but doing just enough to attract your attention. Each character you meet, other than yourself, has a voice. Not just figuratively. This was the right call, as it makes the world feel like it has a story for you. Removing your own voice highlights that it is the world’s story that’s worth hearing.
Gameplay is where SEASON: A Letter to the Future may lose most people. Its bicycle mechanic can begin to be more of an obstacle, than a feature. When it isn’t a biking sim, it is a walking sim. The game is entirely about self-exploration and understanding. It is an indie art house type of game, which isn’t attractive to some.
Describing SEASON: A Letter to the Future to a colleague, their reply was, “sounds boring”, and that is totally fair. In description, it does sound boring, but it is so in the same way that a puzzle is boring. Watching someone hunt for pieces and slowly make progress can be boring, but not nearly so for the person putting it together. Looking for a piece where there may or may not be one, discovering that one you need, figuring out how the picture forms, building snapshots of key areas that later become this bigger world. That is Season‘s sweet spot. That’s its letter to the future.
Simple, but beautiful, rendered environments and color palette.
Limited to conversations, open hub exploration, and discovery, but does these very well. At a certain point, bike riding detracts more than it adds.
Fantastic use of ambient sound. Subtle and limited, but does just enough to attract your eye and pull you towards it.
Fun Factor: 7.0
Akin to a puzzle. You aren’t going to be amazed when you put the controller down, but you are going to be satisfied with the time put in, and the picture now in front of you.
Final Verdict: 7.5
SEASON: A Letter to the Future is available now on PS5, PS4, and PC.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of SEASON: A Letter to the Future was provided by the publisher.