Season: A Letter to the Future Review – a thoughtful premise with a few minor snags

An intimate, mindful story about recording what matters, hits a few small bumps in the road.

Do you keep a diary? Before I. First I dumped all my childhood thoughts into a book with citrus-scented pages, and then my teenage dreams and devastation fell into a navy blue journal with gold trim and a flimsy lock. A few years later I switched to blogging and learned the hard way not to throw every waking thought and irritation onto the internet.

My diary was a confidant. Sometimes a therapist. But with every other tangent and every other set – some things never change, I guess – it’s hard to imagine them being of interest to anyone for years to come. It never was and never will be an anthropological artifact to house the sights, sounds and souls of a dying civilization.

But that’s exactly what Estelle wanted to create. Unnerved by an ominous dream, her people prepare for the changing season, a poetic phrase that marks the end of the world; Well, the end of the world as these people know it, anyway. But even with the fine folk of Caro sitting high in the clouds and safe from the uproar below, Estelle wants to do more than just accept the end of the season this time around. Instead, she wants to archive the current season to inform and enlighten those in seasons to come.

Here’s a story trailer for Season: A Letter to the Future to give you an idea.

And so season begins: a letter to the future, a gentle, melancholy adventure in which Estelle leaves Caro and explores the world below, overwhelming her senses with sights, sounds and sensations she has never felt before. Armed with a Polaroid camera, Estelle captures everything she finds remarkable – you decide what is interesting and what is not – and enters it into her journal. The same goes for sound clips; Using a microphone and a recording device, she can capture mesmerizing soundscapes and magically embed them into her notes. She is also a gifted artist, capable of sketching monochrome facsimiles of the many stunning vistas she encounters.

Without knowing exactly what happens at the end of a season, it’s up to you to decide what might interest scientists about what happens to your journal in the centuries to come. Will there be birds when the world ends? I do not know; Maybe we should add a snippet of birdsong just in case? And what about rain? The sweet sound of monkeys chirping? The gentle hum of windswept bamboo and that adorable wind chime? You won’t be able to archive everything – although there are “special” pages for specific events and discoveries, more often than not you’ll have a single spread to record all your keepsakes, and no more. That means it’s up to you to play the curator too.

Season Recap - The main character stares outward at a large rock formation

Season review - the pages of your diary

Maybe it’s the orange-scented pages of my youth, but the journal feature has me spellbound, especially when you unlock additional statements and stickers to decorate your journal with. I loved evaluating my collection, carefully adding and discarding my choices to keep exactly what I felt would matter most. I’m not a big hell of a fan of snooping around in multiplayer features, but it would be so wonderful to peek into other players’ diaries sometime; Even as we share some snaps and doodles, I imagine each page will be arranged a little differently, uniquely personalized for the person who curated it.

Being a surprisingly linear adventure, it’s difficult to tell much about Estelle’s journey without revealing something important, and since her story is essentially as long or as short as you want, you can do it in a matter of hours work through, or enjoy each new environment and comb through every inch of it for days – I can imagine there are some people or places that you might completely overlook and end the game without even knowing they exist. Even playing leisurely (I’ve spent ten hours on the clock) I seem to have skipped a handful of important keepsakes. This is not due to a lack of effort; The season’s lush world is crammed with secrets, good and bad, and I couldn’t resist the call to uncover them all, trying to confound the people’s curious spirituality and strange singing flora while I did so.

Season's Recap - the character walking through a lush field of bright pink-purple plants

Season Recap - The character's silhouette looks outward into a starry night sky

Season Recap - The character is seated on a bench overlooking a calm bay on the horizon

Season Recap - The main character lies on his back and looks up

You’re sailing through the strange landscapes on your bike, the wind whipping around your ears while you soak up the world. However, the bike mechanic rarely felt fluid; Even with adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, cycling can feel cumbersome, and Estelle only needs to brush a pebble to bring the bike to a full stop, making traversing a bumpy, frustrating affair – especially when you’re in a hurry.

I also had a few issues with assets, as Estelle’s sketches were blocky and blurry in the second half of the game, as if they hadn’t loaded properly. The same goes for the map, both the in-world and the sketched copy; By the time I was halfway across the region, they were all unreadable.

Season review - talking to an older lady with strangely wide hair

Season recap - riding a bike down a gravel path

Season Recap - Audio recording instructions showing a PS5 controller silhouette and brief instructions on the right side of the screen

Season Recap - Two characters are drinking bowls of soup by a cannon in a dark cottage

I ended up with just as many questions as when I started, but I don’t blame Developer Scavengers for that. Estelle’s world unravels with every person you meet and every new place you explore, and as the curator of your own adventure, you are ultimately responsible for what you take away from that experience. There will be decisions; some will feel inconsequential, others anything but. It’s a shame, therefore, that despite seemingly having multiple endings, there’s no way to replay it unless you’re willing to delete your original save file and start all over again. Something I’m not after hours of tedious magazine management.

These are minor irritations, however, in an otherwise delightful adventure, a journey not only of essential documentation and archiving, but of self-discovery. I enjoyed getting to know Estelle and her new friends slowly, even though there were still so many unanswered questions before the credits rolled.

Not only will you learn what’s important to Estelle, the people of this season, and the people before them, but also what’s important to you in your season. Every day that you are you has taken you to this very place; every choice, every decision, every bereavement, every mistake. If only you, a journal, and a handful of random keepsakes were left, what memories would you fight to keep alive? Season: A Letter to the Future Review – a thoughtful premise with a few minor snags

Fry Electronics Team

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