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It's Winter – a simulator of the depressing, cold Russian urban outskirts

“It’s not about having fun,” the game’s author says

MOSCOW, March 13. /TASS, Dmitry Medvedenko/. Cold, lonely, depressing, and beautiful. These words dominate the reviews for It’s Winter - a first-person sandbox indie game without an end or purpose. “Just like life itself”, the game’s author, poet Ilya Mazo told TASS.

The player is confined to a tiny apartment in a block of flats somewhere in urban Russia on a snowy winter night. Many of the objects are interactive: fry the eggs, throw away the shells, take out the trash, open the window, turn on your rusty old radio or broken TV. Go for a walk outside, except everything is closed. Come back. Anyone who isn’t aware of the game’s concept would find themselves lost – what’s next? There are no on-screen prompts or goals, nobody to talk to, so what do I do? “Simply observe,” says Ilya. “Some people have actually tried, as usual, to have fun with this game by putting sneakers in the microwave, for instance, but that’s not what this is about”.  

The poet came up with the idea for the game several years ago. “I was very sick and out of a job. All I had in my life was my daily walk with the dog. So I started writing everything I saw down”.

This led to a series of creative oeuvres including a book, a short film and even an “opera”, with the game being the last to join the concept that is now known as It’s Winter.  

The game creates an atmosphere of emptiness and futility in a setting, which many Russians will recognize: the generic interiors, Soviet urban planning, and the endless snow. Nonetheless, this is what makes it something truly poetic. “It is an anthem to the beauty of everyday things,” Ilya Mazo said. For the Russian player, this hits home, with some reviewers complaining that the game is a little too depressing. For the foreign player, this is an insight.

It’s Winter is available on PC through Steam with no current plans for other platforms, Mazo said.