For some of us, ‘tis the season for eggnog and pine trees, sparkling lights and time with friends and family. For others the holiday season is a time of lonely, almost existential reflection. I tend to fall somewhere between the two. No matter what camp you fall into, we all have things we could be doing right now. So, I will keep this short. Go play Lost Constellation.
I happened upon this game perhaps by chance, though I would find a different term since “chance” implies an accidental meeting. According to the download page, “Lost Constellation is a Longest Night ghost story. Travel into the frozen woods in a folktale from the world of Night In The Woods.” That description does not do the game justice.
To understand the background of this tale, we have to look to the future of another. Night In The Woods is an upcoming game (2016) about an aimless college dropout (Mae) who returns home to a dying mining town hoping things hadn’t changed. Lost Constellation is a supplemental to this. It isn’t a demo, but rather an appetizer presented as a yule gift. It’s not part of the main dish, instead it’s side story from a time that passed long before Mae was born. A time long forgotten.
You play the protagonist, Adina Astra, a (female) astronomer on a quest. The game starts with you standing in the snow. A hauntingly enchanting forest surrounds you. The colors, the sounds all blend to make the masterpiece that is this game. Think of it as an interactive visual novel, fully animated and truly bewitching.
Before I had realized it, I had played through the whole story in one sitting. Some have referred to it as dark. Others have called it thoughtful and a much needed introspection on how we see death and deal with loss.
I can’t go into the plot without SPOILERS, but I can say you don’t find out the true nature of your journey until the very end when you have reached the frozen lake. You will need to talk to an asshole (priest-eating) cat, and build snowmen with items you find in the snow. You will challenge gods and witches and survive the cold, unforgiving forest. All the while slowly peeling away parts of the story and trudging toward your quest’s end.
The controls are simple and the game offers many tips on how to use items you pick up. It is played only with mouse and keyboard, and is free with a suggested donation of $5.00. Although short, I personally believe it is worth it. If the lovely visuals and wintery setting don’t do it for you, maybe the anthropomorphic characters will.
Developed by Alec Holowka, Art by Scott Benson
Released December 28, 2014
Available on itch.io
Pairs well with Sierra Nevada Snow Wit IPA