PS5 Review Season A Letter To The Future PS5 review

Season: A Letter To The Future Review (PS5) – It’s Beautiful In The Fall Of Humanity

season a letter to the future ps5 review

Season: A Letter To The Future PS5 Review. An increasingly large part of the fabric of modern gaming is in capturing moments and memories from our games. Be it streaming, podcasting, utilizing photo modes, or making videos. It’s never been easier to bottle our playtime for posterity and sharing. As such, it makes this the perfect time for Scavengers Studio to release a game that is all about capturing the essence of its world.

Season: A Letter To The Future PS5 Review

An Emotional Rite Of Passage Story That Makes The Mundane Seem Magical

Season is about a young woman going on a rite of passage journey with a difference. The current ‘season’ is coming to an end, and with that, a seemingly cataclysmic change to the world will arrive. This person must leave their home high up in the mountains to travel across the broken planet on her bicycle, collecting snippets of the world as it is now as a reminder for the world as it will be. That’s the bare bones of what Season is about, but it is so much more. This is a haunting, melancholic apocalypse that is driven by the desire to hold on to what we had in the face of destructive, seemingly unavoidable change.

Before setting out on the journey, we join our protagonist in her home on the morning of her departure. It’s a great pace setter for what is to follow as you can feel the lingering need to hang on to this moment, a feeling made flesh by the ritual our protagonist performs with her mother. This ritual provides an instant sliver of intrigue as we learn that going ‘out there’ into the wider world can rob you of who you are, and by taking a handful of important memories with you in a pendant, you have a greater chance of retaining the essence of who you are. There are consequences to this ritual however, and the opening hour of Season ends up packing in a lot of emotion.

season a letter to the future ps5 review

It’s strange to start a journey with a clear sense the protagonist is not going to see the people they grew up with ever again. Stranger still that it’s done in such a serene and heartfelt way as it is here. By placing such importance on the act of leaving a life behind for something new, and making that such a final act, Scavengers Studio captures the mood for its adventure beautifully. A real sense of the trepidation, excitement, and wonder of what lies ahead.

During this opening, Season introduces you to the tools that will make up much of your play time for the next 10 or so hours. To document the world, you have a scrapbook, a sound recorder, a camera, and a bike to go find all you need. As you travel from place to place, you’re able to take photos of things you see, record interesting sounds, pick up items that might help capture the essence of the world, and talk to those who remain.

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The DualSense offers a really tactile experience with these tools. The bike can be controlled by alternating the back shoulder buttons like pedals, with the adaptive triggers reacting to the bike’s speed accordingly. The sound recorder comes through the controller’s speaker in a suitably discordant way and is backed by the subtle rumble of the haptics. It’s genuinely one of the most pleasant and satisfying experiences I’ve had with the DualSense to date.

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The journey itself is very much A to Z. You ride the bicycle, stopping whenever something of interest pops up, and occasionally stumble upon a story within the story. It’s not quite a free-roaming world. Rather, it’s a bunch of breathtaking scenery with some interactive points of interest.

But it’s crucial to note that how you get to Z is the point, and the most personal part of the game. There’s key places to visit for the story, but beyond that, you can document the world as you see fit. What about the things you see and hear should be retained for the understanding of those who come after? That’s the freedom to be found in what Season does.

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The joy of discovery plays a big part in this journey. It’s a world with similarities to our own, but subtle changes are abound thanks to the obvious layers of ruin preceding seasons have caused. Season doesn’t do wild and crazy, but it does do gently weird and surprising exceptionally well. It makes the mundane seem magical.

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I don’t want to go too deep into examples here as I’ve already noted how big a part discovery plays in Season, but one of my favorite moments early on was at a seemingly abandoned farmhouse where a herd of cows were milling about. A bit of exploration and poking about the area caused a delightfully strange event. Season is full of moments like that. Moments born from curiosity that then present you with a perfect thing to capture in documenting what the world is like now for those who will never see it themselves. Yes, these moments are predetermined to some degree, but they aren’t obvious, and that requires a lot of trust in the player to feed their curiosity. As such, Scavengers Studio must be applauded for pulling it off so regularly.

Further still, these moments can really matter in the context of how the story plays out. With ‘life or death’ removed from the equation, the narrative pathways on offer in Season are still meaningful, but in a very particular way. In a sense, the serene pace of Season is at odds with the urgency of the situation it presents, and this is definitely felt in how ambiguous the game can be. In theory it should be the game equivalent of trying to pack as many personal effects into a suitcase as possible before escaping your burning home, but the reality here is an acceptance of the world’s fate. It’s happened before, it’ll likely happen again. It’s as much a ritual as the one you’re undertaking.

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The other thing that defines the story is what you choose to put in your journal to document the era. Each area has a couple of pages dedicated to it that requires a handful of entries to complete (you can throw in some more after, including custom decoration). Season allows you to put sounds in the book via clickable sketches, and leaflets and small items you find can be slapped in alongside the sketches and photos made along the way. While there isn’t an infinite amount of things to catalogue, there’s more than enough to ensure your journal will be different to someone else’s.

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Something that slightly spoils this trip is how floaty movement is. Season handles a light and casual as its pace, and while it’s not an issue for the most part, it does lead to too many clunky collisions with the scenery.

This is a small fry problem though. Season tells such an interesting story in an equally interesting world, and its approach to making the player feel like a connected part of it is admirable. The temptation to push on through a game, especially when in a pre-release review, is always there, but Season: A Letter to the Future practically compelled me to take it slow, and I’m delighted that it did so.

Season: A Letter To The Future releases for PS4 and PS5 on January 31, 2023.

Review code kindly provided by PR.



The Final Word

Season: A Letter to the Future is a poetic, melancholy rite of passage experience like no other. Its take on facing the end of the world is about preserving what was rather than trying to survive what will be, and is all the better for it.