The world of video games have exploded in the past few years with tone-pieces, experiences that aim to capture a particular texture. The industry has democratised to the point where we’re now capable of affording smaller ideas to exist comfortably next to the brasher AAA titles. Lovely Weather We’re Having being the latest in a long run of games as conceptual art installations. Ideas that work beautifully within the confines of the many IndieCade-like shows that have cropped up over the years. Within those parametres, these sort of games can be enjoyed on their merits alone, inspiring many pretentious essays. But, once released on a store-front like Steam, it presents problems for the reviewer. How can you possibly judge it once in direct competition with Fallout 4?
Lovely Weather We’re Having is ‘nice’. ‘Nice’, while being an endlessly bland and vague word, is actually the most accurate way to describe the experience. You’re a blob who’s only task is to explore the small surroundings of your neighbourhood, chat pleasantly to your community about their views on the day. The central selling point is how the game tracks the actual, real-life, weather around you. If you decide to boot it up, bleary-eyed, on a wet October night, then the game will also be cold, dark and damp. Small bursts of gameplay where you’ll have a smattering of conversations based on the weather outside your window. And that’s all there is to the game – inhabiting the kind of environment that The Kinks would write about at their most music-hall.
This cheeriness extends to the art design, rendered beautifully in the Unity engine. The characters and architecture are made up of well-defined shapes, crafted into cartoony ice-cream creations. It all has the look a geometric interpretation of a child’s drawing. It fills the same space as a slightly off-kilter European kids show. Think Pingu; a sparse but clearly lovingly designed world. Unfortunately, I’ve only managed to play the game during London’s six month period of grey wetness, but even still I’ve noticed how the colours become bolder, more vibrant, during certain parts of the day. I could criticise the sameness of it all, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention the constant grin I had during my time.
The sound adds less to the experience. There’s no music, just the odd weather effect or juddering noise that comes from interacting with the few pieces of scenery that aren’t static. Those sound effects are fine, perfunctory. But they seem to exist from another world, not quite fitting with the tone that the rest of the game has sculpted. There’s nothing more. The lack of noise seems to have been there to contribute to the placid mood Lovely Weather We’re Having strives for, but would have benefited from a bouncy track or two.
There’s an addictive oddity present in the characters and their dialogue. There’s a gentle humour to the thought processes of these creatures, home-grown philosophical musings tumble from out of their mouths. There’s little in genuine laughs to be had, but plenty of wry-smirking. It’s only unfortunate that there isn’t more to be read. Within my third five-minute chunk of playing I was already seeing repetition put a damper on my time. I’m sure more will come with the turning seasons but it’s not nearly enough – twenty minutes of writing per every couple of months is a work load even George R.R. Martin would find lazy.
And there is unfortunately very little else to say. I was immediately enamoured with Lovely Weather We’re Having, I hoped I could add it to the pantheon of breezy games I play while listening to podcasts. Something to keep my hands busy while absorbing Radio Lab. But even for that welcoming category, you’ll only find about five minutes worth of content each go. And that five minutes quickly repeats itself.
Lovely Weather We’re Having completely succeeds in capturing it’s desired tone, but that’s not enough to make a recommendation. It seems to be saying to me: ‘C’mon, I know you’ve been made cynical by years of Ronald-Reagan-fever-dream-shooters. Let yourself fall in love. Play in our adorable pile of balloons.’ But after less than an hour I had already had my fill. There’s a sweetness here, but it’s only empty calories.
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