It’s a whiteout. The wind works its way beneath your skin and into your bones. You ate your last handful of berries minutes ago. Your stomach is begging for anything, even dirt. You see a light ahead, a player name above it. Before you can question if salvation has arrived, the sharp head of an ax buries itself in your back. Darkness.
Project Winter is a multiplayer survival game from Other Ocean Interactive. Matches consist of 8 players, with some picked to be traitors while the others are standard survivors. As a survivor, you must work with others to complete tasks that ensure your eventual escape within timed events. These range from finding parts to start a generator, to repairing a radio to call for the final ride for escape, or opening supply-riddled bunkers as a group. Traitors, meanwhile, have to do everything in their power to stop the survivors from making it out alive, including lying, sabotaging, and killing. All of this, of course, takes place against a freezing white backdrop wherein all players must keep their warmth and hunger in check while hunting or avoiding bears, wolves, and other animals. Death can come quickly and suddenly if one does not stick with the group, and there are plenty of customization options to help you stand out from the pack, with some hidden behind in-game currency paywalls or available for purchase with real money.
Another key feature is communication. Players can emote and use text chat, as well as immediate area voice chat, but long-range voice chat players must find radios with the same color in order to communicate. Radio silence is often flagged as treachery by other players, so if you intend on trying this title out, having a microphone is very beneficial. Otherwise, you may find yourself at the wrong end of a suspiciously-pointed shotgun and your match cut short. The player community ranges from newcomers to veterans, most of which were inclusive and only cared that the match was sought through to the end as much as possible. Little time is spent waiting in lobbies and is put to better use navigating the wilderness. Inventories consist of four slots, with consumables or materials stacking. Thus it is often a tough choice to determine what is needed in the moment or for the future, though there is a communal storage unit in the neutral lodge zone. Parts can be used to craft weapons including pickaxes, axes, shotguns, and mines. Food can be cooked for strengthened benefits, and scrap parts are used to repair objectives. The more you accomplish, the more points you earn to spend on customization gear.
Everything controls well in Project Winter, and it plays similarly to games like Don’t Starve. The art style is great, adding a great deal of character instead of opting for a more gritty or realistic approach. Everything is intentionally a little blocky, but the graphics do not suffer and the game looks polished. Folky guitar plays in the menu and the match, adding some energy when big blizzards and other global events roll through. Game sounds are crisp and quality, and the wind from a blizzard makes it feel all the more real. As solely a multiplayer game, there is a huge amount of replayability, especially considering the customization unlocks. In order to improve, one must continue playing to determine common red flags of traitors, or learn from the best traitors you have played with.
If game types such as “Murder” or “Trouble in Terrorist Town” from Garry’s Mod or even straight up survival or escape games are your speed, consider Project Winter. It’s accessible for fans of any genre, and after getting used to it, the game is an absolute blast to play. Each match keeps you on your toes, and it’s a great pick to play with friends. Any frustrations are the result of failures on the player’s part, as no bugs were encountered upon multiple matches and connections never dropped. Objectives can be repetitive if one plays subsequent matches in one sitting, but the chance of being picked as a traitor can make the game even more fun and challenging.