SEASON a letter to the future Scavengers Studio video game

SEASON: A letter to the future, from Montreal studio Scavengers, is a great escape

This new game is part apocalyptic fantasy, part Instagram travel blog, following a young woman’s first journey outside her remote village.

SEASON: A letter to the future follows a young woman from a remote village who, for the first time, explores the world beyond her town’s stone walls by bike. Her task is to collect, photograph and document memories before a cataclysmic event wipes her world away. 

It’s a single player, narrative adventure and exploration game with a paint-by-numbers senior Millennial aesthetic. Part apocalyptic fantasy, part Instagram travel blog, this game visually exists in a liminal space between dawn and dusk, during a perpetual magic hour. The world is esoteric and mysterious, a version of Earth where dreams and memories are powerful, life affecting constructs. 

SEASON takes point-and-click to the next level with its analogue elements. In your satchel you carry a camera (that you learn to frame and focus) and audio cassette recorder (improve your mic technique!) that are used to document your journey. Everything is a memory, every moment might be important — it really depends on if you decide to speedrun SEASON (not recommended) or linger in it. Think of this game as a scrapbooking RP — because your progression is based on your journaling, and bike riding, abilities.

It’s February in Montreal: the dead of winter. We’re packed in by piles of snow that seems to never stop falling. So taking a nice warm verdant Mediterranean-inspired virtual bike ride sounds real nice. And that first in-game bike ride in SEASON is truly fantastic. I could almost feel the wind in my hair.

This traversal gameplay is enhanced on PS5, taking full advantage of the DualSense controller features to mimic the sensations of bike riding. Pedalling uses the adaptive triggers with varying resistance depending on the speed and the incline of the road — one of the more ingenious uses of the PlayStation controllers since catching Sam Porter Bridges’ balance in Death Stranding. Players on PS5 will also feel the texture of the ground change as they cycle over different terrain via haptic feedback.

I played on Steam with a controller and had to push forward on the left controller stick to pedal. And while the bike riding experience (jumping on, pushing off, gaining momentum, slowing down and parking your bike) was extremely satisfying, the PS5 experience would push it over the top.

Founded in 2015 in Montreal, Scavengers is an independent video game studio that is now run by CEO Amélie Lamarche. A bumpy period in 2021 saw a change in leadership and studio direction — all amidst the development of SEASON, a title very different from Scavengers’  first game Darwin Project (a battle royale MMO).

Making SEASON: A Letter to the Future has been cathartic, according to the title’s writer and creative director Kevin Sullivan. “It has absorbed our worries about the state of the planet, our joy at living on it, things we’ve seen, people we’ve loved and lost, all tied together into something, hopefully, beautiful and strange.”

If anything the release of SEASON is a testament to Scavengers studio as a team. Making games is a delicate and slow craft — it takes patience and iteration — themes that are reflected in SEASON’s gameplay, the story and the overall work itself. ■

SEASON: A letter to the future, from Montreal studio Scavengers, is a great escape

SEASON: a letter to the future was released on Jan. 31 on PC, Playstation 4 and Playstation 5 by Scavengers Studio.

Game Jam is a monthly column about Montreal’s video game community. Are you a Montreal studio releasing a game soon? Please contact me here.

This article was originally published in the February 2023 issue of Cult MTL.

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