Much like Summer in Fairbrook, I bought this game on sale, and yet still find it difficult to recommend to anyone, other than those firmly commited to the genre.
And much like it's predecessor, Winter in Fairbrook leaves much to be desired.
To say the game is bad would be like saying a small piece of chocolate cake is bad (assuming that you enjoy chocolate cake). It's still cake, it's still good, but it is grossly unsatisfying.
The writing leaves much to be desired. Very much like Steve in the previous game, Natalie is a vapid, ignorant, immature, petulant, and lazy girl, who is instructed by her parents to find a job over the holidays, in the hopes of teaching her some discipline (They had already cancelled her cellphone due to bad grades, and are now threatening to take her new car away). Luckily, her room-mate just happens to be Clara from the previous game, and she sets Natalie up with Susana to work in the flower shop.
Natalie must leave first thing in the morning to arrive in Fairbrook to start work the next day, but instead of packing and sleeping, she spends all night playing online games. That is our first introduction to this character, and I must say, it did not leave me wanting to spend the entire winter break with her.
When she arrives in Fairbrook she thinks it's a small, dull town, and rightly so. She sleeps the day away, and then proceeds very rudely reject the dinner that was cooked for her (and continues to do so for a few weeks) and sleep in until 11 am the next day, even after being woken up by Susana at 8 am... after doing the only task asked of her, she then wanders off to check out the general store, thinking to herself that she "wasn't told [she] needed to come right back.... once again, I am left wondering why I should care about this spoiled wretch.
She improves as time goes on, of course, but I still never really cared for her at all. The choices that you get to make in the game are fairly limited. Just like it's predecessor, you start your day working in your garden. You then get to do one activity for the whole day, be it going to the store, the library, or just staying in.. there were around 5 options if I recall correctly. Every so often you would get a cut scene with one of the bachelors, and you would get to make a single choice in the entire discussion, and the rest of it was merely her awkward verbal diarrhea.
As for the bachelors... well.... what can I say...
Steve is still Steve, if you've played the previous game then you already know everything there is to know about him. He's slightly less lazy than before, but otherwise he's pretty much just a male version of Natalie (or she a female version of him).
Jacob is sweet, charming, helpful, and shy.. oh, and he's SEVENTEEN!!! Yes, you read that right.. one of this College girl's potential mates is still in Highschool...... yeah. Add to that the fact that she thinks he looks like a twelve year old, and you've got a real winner.
Trent is still trent. He's sweet, charming, attractive, and playful. Oh, and in love with someone else... just like, well, pretty much all the guys really.
And Ryan, well, there's nothing that I can say about him that wouldn't sound completely biased, but I'll try. To say he's adorkable would not be giving him enough credit, though he does resemble that at times. He's intellegent, well-spoken, hard-working, reliable, cultured, and a bit of a virtuoso.... I mean, is there anything he isn't? He's also the only guy who isn't already mostly spoken for, so that's another plus for him... the only problem is, in reality, there is no way he would go for someone like Natalie... and quite frankly, most of the time it seemed like he hated her, or at the very least found her highly irritating.
- Art work is relatively cute
- Writing is decent
- Gardening mini-game is amusing
- The bachelors are charming
- The music is repetitive, and though not inharently bad, certainly grates on you after a time.
- The writing is lacking in quite a few places
- The gardening mini-game is much more out of place in this incarnation than in the previous title.
This game is not really worth your time or money, even on sale. It's decent, and if you really like the genre then I won't think any less of you for buying it.
Just keep in mind that even though it says I've got 12 hours played, about 80% of that was spent leaving the game open for Trading Cards. I think it took me roughly 2 hours to get 3 of the endings.