Season: A Letter to the Future

released on Jan 31, 2023

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and let yourself be carried away by the great journey of Season, a third-person atmospheric adventure bicycle road trip game. Explore the world through the eyes of a young woman. Collect artifacts and memories before a mysterious cataclysm washes everything away.

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Há diversas coisas que amei em Season: A Letter to the Future, mas uma das principais é que ele não tenta ser um jogo divertido.
Season é contemplativo e reflexivo. Todas as discussões, filosofias e ideias apresentadas podem ser aplicadas não só no nosso mundo, mas no nosso dia a dia. Como enxergamos o tempo? O que é o futuro? Tradição ou progresso? O que significa deixar tudo para trás? O define uma "mudança de época"?
Seu ritmo é bem lento, há poucas ações que o jogador pode fazer, mas a narrativa amarra tudo de forma maravilhosa e emocionante, tudo isso apertando o botão do gravador, tirando uma foto e pedalando uma bicicleta.
Com tudo isso dito (e muito não dito), já coloco Season: A Letter to the Future como um dos meus jogos favoritos de 2023. Joguem!

One of the more beautiful games I’ve played, and a thing that feels like it was destined to find me at this precise moment of my life, as I grapple with the recent passing of my dad. This gentle journey through the most bittersweet and bucolic post-apocalypse I’ve seen, armed with nothing but a camera, a field recorder, and a bicycle: this is what I needed
Everything in Season is poetry. The familiar world tinged with a hint of magic. The far-reaching thoughts of the main character as she opens her eyes to the life, culture, and history of her surroundings. The understated character work and voice acting. The richly layered thematic material. Here is a game deeply concerned with memory and loss, while always keeping a hopeful, if anxious, eye toward the future. I love the tone that’s captured here so much
Games like this often focus on their writing, their art, their vibes, but Season deserves recognition for the mechanics on display as well. Whipping out a device and capturing a moment feels effortless, and the world has been assembled with such fastidious care that every shot I took felt like a minor masterpiece. I cannot overstate how important this was. Compared to a game like Umurangi, where I rarely felt like I’d actually taken a “good” picture, Season made me feel like a photographic genius. The lighting and composition always fall right into place like magic. I walked away from this thinking “gee maybe I should take up photography!” (I won’t). And although at the start of the game I was worried that assembling the scrapbook might get old and tedious, it never did. I loved finding new ways to arrange the elements of each page, I loved the mix of open-ended and goal-oriented pages, and it was a really special moment to flip back through the whole thing at the end
And then there’s the bicycle: it was such a simple and rich joy to just coast across this world. I also loved how my fingers would actually get a bit tired when biking up hills from having to pump the triggers filled with DualSense tension
I was hoping for just a little bit more from the ending, but this is dangerously close to a perfect game to me

Unfortunately, Season does little to emphasise the nature of journeys outside of animating vast beautiful landscapes that conform to meanings that impress, homogeneously, the overwritten narrative laboriously pounded into your ears. The talkiness of the story, dully delivered by some sleepy performances that suffer from totally absent direction (or convincing character motivation), completely eats up any sense of player empathy with the characters; the vistas become postcards with absent scrawl on the back, written by a backpacker convinced of the cosmic significance of staying in hostels and eating "local cuisine" served out of tourist traps.
Normally I say, "verbs, not vibes" for designing the delivery of how a game should feel in conveying its tonality, but the aggressive nature with which Season commodifies its world through the gathering purpose (poorly framed as archival bedrocking, something which totally goes against the current efforts of archival practices wresting free of the nature of highly authored "cornerstones" of import in many institutions of the past) it builds all interaction around the vague, ethereal nature of journeying - literally, leaving things behind - is wasted on the acknowledgement of the game as a product. It's not the developers fault that game clipping and sharing is now a highly commercial enterprise external to games as art, but given the antiquity of that facet of community nowadays, they should have realised the optics and feel of such a scaffolded feel when moving through their spaces.
Spaces being here a very general term. The game is sidewalks: paths are enclosured, and any trying to feel less like a zoo animal will immediately bring more to mind the feeling of playing Super Mario Bros than Sable. You can follow motion through forward or back, but regardless of what you feel is pushing you in a direction, the developers do not allow the desires of the player nor of a player narrative to create expectation, payoff, or ambiguity of the journey outside of the highly rote, terribly cliched, experience.
And as a capstone, the animatic cutscenes have some of the worst examples of stealing the component parts of comics to "cut costs" I've ever seen in a game. The lettering is atrociously mechanised, creating a horribly ugly script that has no life or wit to its line, yet it draws all attention to it by being placed in awful MS paint ovals that consider not at all the composition of the frame they are put in. The models at rest in each 'frame' are not composed on beats of the scene, but at dim relaxations of muscle, taking all life out of the image, rendering the screen a puppet show lost for a puppeteer.

Really really loved the world of this game, super beautiful and melancholic.
I would never like a game about coping with loss! Ever! Obviously lol
Fr tho this game is just so effortlessly beautiful, the art style is great and the world feels so distinct and lived in. There are so many little interactions and experiences to be found just from appreciating it's beauty. The characters are wonderful and I cried a lot talking with them tbh.
I don't want to say too much to spoil it but if you need some time in nature, in quiet and connecting with your past, play this game. And then go and touch grass and your community.

Really simple game with a confusing story.
Not as wonderful as the media and other reviews want it to be. It's one of those cases where everyone seems to praise because it is an "intellectual" thing and if you rate it low you are labelled as someone that can't understand the beauty behind it. Whatever.