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Project Winter is an interesting combination of survival and social deduction — think Among Us mixed with The Long Dark — that’s brilliant in its best moments, but sadly kneecapped by the compromises you’ll have to make to play it on Switch.
The pitch may sound familiar: a team of between five and eight people, a few of whom are “traitors”, are tasked with either completing or sabotaging tasks. Traitors have extra crates to open and hatches to fast-travel across the map; survivors have to band together to stay alive, and figure out who to trust. Everything can kill you, traitors and survivors alike — roaming wolves, moose, bears, traps, hunger, the weather, and the biting cold are all your enemies; if you overcome all of that, you still might get hacked to death by another person.
Where Project Winter shines is its proximity chat. Much like being in a real snowy, blizzard-plagued landscape, sound is absorbed completely unless you’re close to someone. That means you can overhear someone getting brutally murdered, or you can cry for help with no one around to save you. It’s really immersive and fun, and… well, Switch and voice chat don’t have a great history, do they? Sure, you can use headphones with an in-built microphone, but if you don’t have the right headset, it’s a lonely, quiet place, as you listen to the banter of the people around you, able only to type — and typing is slow, and will get you killed.
Add to that the other hurdles of the ludicrously tiny text, the overwhelmingly busy UI, the steep learning curve, and the fact that matchmaking is a little patchy at best and awful at worst, and it’s pretty harder to recommend this game on Switch than elsewhere. Even when we did get into matches, we were often met with the kind of racist and sexist troll behaviour that should have been left behind in the 2000s, which is, admittedly, not Project Winter’s fault, but it did colour our experience.
But those brilliant moments, like the one where we played three matches in a row with someone named Malo, who was kind enough to show us the ropes and protect us only to have us betray his trust and murder him at the end, were priceless.