Have You Played... The Stillness of the Wind?
Gone with the wind
The Stillness of the Wind looks like it should be the cosiest game in the history of forever. Composed of big, bright primary colours that look like they've been stitched together to form a warm, snuggly quilt, this is a game about an old lady and her goats. Yes, there are chickens as well, but really, it's the goats you'll come to care for most. They're your pride and joy on this farm, and you'll spend a good portion of every day petting them, milking them and turning said milk into delicious wheels of cheese that you can trade with the local pedlar that drops by every now and again at your idyllic ranch.
But then the crows turn up.
The songbirds stop singing. Your chickens go missing in the night. The pedlar stops coming, and you start having ominous visions about the future. Then the sandstorm comes, and everything stops growing. Your food rots. Your goats fall ill. You don't know what you can do to save them, but you struggle on until, finally, the end arrives, and you fade into a blissful white light. Far from being the cosiest game in the history of forever, it's secretly one of the bleakest things you'll ever play. And yet I still kinda like it?
If the colourful goat game looks familiar, that's because it's actually an expanded version of Memory of God's free Itch title, Where The Goats Are. It plays out in much the same way, only here your farm's a lot bigger. Your cheese maker is sequestered off into a separate building, for example, so it's easier to miss your pedlar friend when he pops round with his wares. You can also grow seeds and plants with your tiller and watering can this time, but you'll have to weigh up whether it's worth the long, slow trek to the well as the days grow shorter. There are also other landmarks you can visit just outside your farmyard's boundaries that help to flesh out the old lady's backstory, but again, you'll have to decide whether it's worth heaving her old bones all the way over to them in favour of, say, giving your goat a nice pat on the head.
It is bleak as hell, but having played Where The Goats Are previously, I felt I was more prepared this time for the old lady's inevitable decline. Since I knew what the deal was, I was able to take more delight in the little details of her everyday chores in The Stillness of the Wind, and I was also better equipped to make smarter trades earlier on in the game to make sure my goats were taken care of once I became too weak to care for them anymore (at least for a while). I felt strangely comforted by the time I came to the end of it, and I'd urge you to give it a go if you feel up to it. It's currently part of Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass on PC offering, or you can buy it on Steam for a tenner.