I grew up playing point-and-click adventures like Monkey Island, Full Throttle and the Broken Sword series, but over time I just stopped. I’m not quite sure why because I really enjoy games with puzzles that challenge you and have a great story to follow too. So when I was asked to check out Alexey’s Winter: Night Adventure, I thought why not? After all, I hadn’t played one in so long, the last time probably being when Grim Fandango was remastered on PS4.
You may have actually seen Alexey’s Winter before as well. A “Lite” version of the game is currently available on Android devices. However, there are no plans to update that with the full version that was released on PC last year. Instead, the game will primarily be getting updates on PC, including DLCs and expansions. But enough of all that, let’s get into what we thought of Alexey’s Winter: Night Adventure.
Setting the scene
We were actually fortunate enough to chat with the developer behind the game to learn a little more about the inspiration for the story, you can find that HERE.
Set in the 1980s Soviet Union, Alexey’s Winter is an episodic point-and-click adventure that follows the story of a young boy.
In Episode 1, Alexey loses the keys to his home and has to find a way to get back inside from the arctic conditions outside. Through various puzzles, you must find a way to negotiate trades with your neighbours and passers-by to get the items you need in order to reach your end goal of getting back home. Once you pass that Episode, you’ll be taken on two more adventures navigating new locations in the game.
The developer, Alexander from NezhySoft, has done a magnificent job catching a sense of realism about the game drawing from his own experiences, whilst also giving Alexey’s Winter a dream-like feel to it thanks to the artwork. The story whilst not as engrossing as some titles that have you saving the world shows a more real-life struggle that many had to contend with when living under the control of the former Soviet Union.
Tough puzzle? I’ll solviet
The game has many puzzles that you must solve to progress. You start with certain items in your inventory and will find more by commencing trades with NPCs and looking around your environments. You also have to start a chain of reaction with some of the puzzles, like getting a smoker onto a ledge, and then throwing a snowball at him to drop his lit cigarette.
The majority of these puzzles are straightforward and very simple to guess what needs doing. But then there are the odd few in there that left me scratching my head too. It wasn’t that they didn’t make sense, it was just a case that they maybe weren’t as logical as some. For example, in Episode 2 of Alexey’s Winter, there is a crow (we nicknamed him Crowsef Stalin) and you need to click on it several times so he flies from place to place in order to move some pigeons.
Whilst it sounds simple, there is no indication this is the path you need to take to proceed through Alexey’s Winter. So sometimes you will have to do a bit of trial and error by selecting items to see if they work, or to interact with things to see what comes about when you approach them.
Some puzzles will also require you to use items you don’t quite have yet. It might look like you do, but you will need to change items you’ve got into new more useful items. But this isn’t done by combining items together, you must find ways in order to change the items through solving even more puzzles. So for example, in the picture below, you have to find a use for the pickles to get an empty jar. Again it captures the idea that back in the 1980s Soviet-era Alexey’s Winter is set, and nothing is wasted. Everything has a use.
A dreamlike world
I mentioned above that Alexey’s Winter had a dream-like feel to it. That’s in part due to the hand-drawn graphics of the game, which are admittedly, very beautiful. But it’s not just the drawings of the environments and the people that work well, it’s also how the screen tends to glow around the points of interactions that you’re focusing on, leaving everything outside of it in a more shrouded mist. Not so smoggy you can’t see it, but it is a great way of showcasing the focal points within the game.
It all makes it feel kind of surreal. Like you are in someone’s dream. But then the audio is added and it brings the game to life a little more. Sound effects are plotted throughout, which just kind of helps you imagine that you’re standing right there in Alexey’s shoes. The sound of snow crunching below your feet, the bus chugging on by as it takes passengers into town. It all adds to create a brilliant atmosphere.
A bug to bear
As with any game, there are always bugs. There weren’t any detrimental to the game that prevented me from playing it, but one did try. For some bizarre reason, when I would click on the lower left section of the screen, usually in quick succession, the screen would minimise itself. At first, I thought had I activated sticky keys or something, was my PC on the fritz? But having played other games, I had no similar issues.
Fortunately, the game doesn’t stop, it just moves to the background so it was easy enough to get back and jump straight into the action of Alexey’s Winter. It did become incredibly annoying though after a while, and so I gave up playing. It seemed to be a lot more prominent in the later episodes, and I’ve passed this feedback on to the developer to look into it a little more.
Like I said, fortunately, it didn’t hinder progress. I just click back on the screen and away I go again. If it had made me restart the game though, it’d been a much bigger problem.
Alexey’s Winter: Night Adventure overall thoughts
Alexey’s Winter: Night Adventure is a beautiful game that takes us back to a time that many will have forgotten, or never even experienced. Whilst it’s not some superhero story of saving the world, it’s nice to play a game that focuses more on the everyday struggles of the average Joe. It’s full of intriguing, if somewhat confusing puzzles, that really get those brain cogs ticking over, and graphically, I’d go as far as saying it’s a masterpiece.
The game is far from perfect and does need polishing up here and there, with some work to do on bugs in the game. But considering this is the solo effort of one man, it’s incredibly impressive. I am looking forward to hopefully exploring more episodes of Alexey’s Winter in the future to see what more mishaps Alexey wanders into.