Season: A Letter to the Future is a narrative exploration game by Scavengers Studio in which you leave home to document the world by photographing, recording, and talking to people about their lives.
The Season is about to change, and when it does, everything will be different in a way you don’t yet know. You talk to your mother one last time before you depart and decide which objects from your house to burn to cast a protective spell that makes your mother forget the stories of the items, but protects you.
The core loop of the game is to explore a new area on your bike, take photos, record audio, draw sketches, and talk to people, and then decide which pieces to arrange in your journal to complete that area’s page. Often it doesn’t matter what you put in your journal. You’re free to simply add whatever interests you and then move on.
This keeps the pace leisurely, but not glacial. Your cycling speed is just fast enough that you can appreciate the beautiful graphics, relaxing music, and interesting locations while not taking too long to arrive somewhere new, and you don’t need to stick around for long unless there’s something interesting.
When the game expects you to solve a mystery, like discovering the name of a god in order to pray to it, it occasionally asks you to backtrack, which is boring. The cycling is slow and pleasant but not mechanically deep or satisfying, and going back to a location you’ve already been to removes the incredible sense of discovery the game has.
I love taking random photos in real life, and this game encourages you to take photos of everything important by having your character comment on any notable objects you photograph. It’s fun to find a cow and be like, “Yep, gotta make sure this cow is in the journal,” but when you’ve seen the area before and don’t need another photo, the landscape ahead of you is just an obstacle.
Season is focused on loss and memory, and the whole experience is tinged with emotion. The magic in the game’s world mixes the past and present and asks what it means to move on. The characters you meet have all lost things, or are about to, and they’re endearing and interesting to talk to. For the most part, the choices you make don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but they let you discover more about this loss-filled world stained with memories of the past.
Most of the game takes place in a single large location with a lot of smaller areas and a handful of people to meet. Given the road trip beginnings of the story, I expected a second area or at least to arrive at the faraway archive that is your goal from the beginning of the story. But instead the game is mostly about why the Season is changing, and it wraps up that thread well.
There are a couple of choices at the end of the game that seem to matter a great deal, but it’s difficult to check because the game doesn’t have a chapter select. My playthrough with a journal as full as I could make it took about 6 hours, which isn’t unbelievably long, but replaying it all would have me uncovering the same knowledge again — an experience that would probably be frustrating due to the lengthy cycling involved and lack of new things to explore.
I had some minor collision issues, but other than that, I don’t have a lot to criticize here. Season is an exploration game with incredible level design, great writing, emotional storytelling that lands, and a lot of goats you can pat, and if that sounds like something you’d enjoy, I highly recommend it.
Season: A Letter to the Future releases February 1 on PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 for $29.99.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Season: A Letter to the Future.