Where the Goats are 2: The Revengening.

Title: The Stillness of the Wind
Platform: PC (Reviewed), Switch, iOS
Developer: Lambic Studios
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Price: £12/$13 (across all platforms)
Release date: February 7, 2019
TL;DR: It’s a slow, calming march towards death, and there are goats
Family Focus? Click here for more information

The thought “what the hell am I supposed to do?” was a frequent one when I was playing The Stillness of the Wind. It’s a game that seems to constantly threaten an event or some shake up to things without ever having to fulfil that threat. Because Stillness of the Wind isn’t about subverting your expectations, it isn’t a game that looks to pull the rug out from under your feet. Instead, it’s a game of routine, of meditation, and essentially, it’s about the slow march towards death. And isn’t that what we all look for in games!?

The game opens with a slow pan towards a modest farm, comprised of a few huts, and a handful of animals, before Talma steps out and the game begins. What that gameplay is really comes down to you. There are only so many activities that you can choose to do, be that tending to the land, making food or trading with a travelling merchant who arrives amidst the sounds of windchimes and cackles.

It’s up to you to introduce a bit of routine into Talma’s day and it’s something that works pretty well, even if it is a bit boring. I quickly fell into the habit of starting the day by miling a goat, then using that milk to create butter. I’d then go and collect the eggs left in the chicken coop before cooking one up for lunch and then doing a bit of farming. Like t he process for making cheese or milking the goats, farming the land is essentially a minigame of waiting for a bar to fill before clicking your mouse, challenging? Certainly not, well not until you manage to get a shotgun shell and toy with the idea of shooting a goat to see what happens. But that same simplicity is designed to make filling up your days as easy of possible. And it all seems geared towards keeping Talma preoccupied until this travelling merchant arrives.

This merchant is the closest thing that The Stillness of the Wind has to plot development. Because while you can trade your goods or livestock with him for hay, goats or strange little curiosities that includes a bottle housing a Djinn, the Merchant also brings you letters from your family. It’s these letters that are the focal point of the game, with the latest news from family members being the only contact Talma seemingly has with the world outside her farm.

The game cuts a clever path between the past and present in this way as well. Because while you await the news from outside the island, you can take Talma on a small tour around the land. It might not stretch too far but littered among the sand and rocks are reminders of the marks left by Talma and her relatives when they were children. Whether that’s the mark on the fence left by Talma and a cousin or the rock that Talma and a relative hid under while the children worked, it seems even the most innocuous of objects play host to one memory or another. It’s a wonderful manifestation of Talma’s static past, with history literally etched into her surroundings in some cases, that’s offset by the game’s present. Each letter only presents snapshots of what’s going on with your relatives, though they paint this wonderfully chaotic picture that’s so at odds with the routine tranquility of the island that it manages to slowly but surely introduce a welcome and often fleeting tension.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that The Stillness of the Wind is technically a follow up to Where the Goats are. I say technically because, having not played the first game, everything in The Stillness of the Wind still made sense. And while, as I’ve since learned, many of the same names pop up from that first game. So for those of you who’ve played the original, it seems like The Stillness of the Wind will play out far more like an epilogue to the original game. While those of you who are visiting the farm for the very first time won’t have any trouble picking the story up, as the game does a surprisingly excellent job of maintaining that emotional connection for players who are returning while doing enough to feel like a stand alone experience for first time vistors.

If this all sounds a little too slow-paced for you, well, you can’t do much to change that. But you’ll still get to enjoy the beautiful design of the game. It’s one full of vibrant colours that seem to burn through even the darkest of nights, while time lapses as Talma sleeps give way to a night sky chock-full of stars, before the days gives way to sunsets that bathe the islands in deep hues, and your shadow stretches out, tripling in size. Basically, the game looks bloody gorgeous; it might not be to everyone’s liking, with it an almost cell-shaded feel to it’s look at times, but those bright colours did enough to keep me sticking around to snag one more shot of the camera panning out slowly, showing just how small Talma is is that massive, empty island.

Like I said, I don’t quite know what to make of The Stillness of the Wind. I think that the game wil be so dependant on the mood you, the player, approach the game in. It’s not something you can plough excess energy into or even a game that you can blow off steam with. But, while I was playing at least, I can only say that it has a very calming effect. Not because it’s boring, but because of that ebb and flow the game creates through its routine. The Stillness of the Wind does an excellent job of making you feel responsible for Talma; ensuring she eats, works, sleeps, and has contact with the outside world are all wrapped up in creating and maintaining that routine, which naturally becomes a very calming act. As for what The Stillness of the Wind is; it’s a strangely hypnotizing game, one that I’ve really enjoyed playing each evening after a horribly busy day. If you want a game that’s downright relaxing, then The Stillness of the Wind is very much that game.

The Good:

  • Lovely, relaxing gameplay
  • Beautiful design
  • An interesting, well-paced story for the type of game it is

The Bad:

  • Some people will find it boring, and that’s fine

Family Focus

The Stillness of the Wind doesn’t have an age rating yet. But considering the meditative nature of the game, I’d suggest that anyone under 16 probably wouldn’t enjoy it.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a copy of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.