Winter Voices is one of those odd games that you play and don't actually have any fun doing so. You play for the feel of it, the atmosphere, the music, some quirk that intrigues you; but you can't exactly call it -fun-.
I took a chance on this one because the premise sounded different and interesting, and I'll admit it delivered on that, but I somehow still feel disappointed. When I look at this game again without my original expectations it's still a quirky piece that feels more like a book rather than a game. The only reason it's a game at all really is to explore the different ways people deal with grief. And maybe that was the whole point to begin with.
Basically you're playing as a girl that's not only dealing with the death of her father, but the loss of herself in an incredibly tiny little town. In many ways your story is already written for you before you start playing; the people in town already have a set idea of who you are, something your character isn't really comfortable with. Fights aren't really fights so much as emotional puzzles; you're not actually playing to win just playing to survive. There's this feeling of inevitability and hopelessness that colors the entire game; making it feel more like a study in depression and mental health issues rather than a game. The actual game mechanics themselves are painful in a lot of aspects. The font is tiny, the movement awkward, the system unintuitive, and the gameplay itself is rather dull and boring.
However; the story is a beautiful and dark one. You genuinely feel lost yourself, combating these ghosts of your own making and fighting against the perceptions of your fellow villagers. The dialogue is moving and intense, and some of the puzzles are complex and took me more than just a couple of tries. It is definitely a unique experience.
In spite of everything I found myself picking this up time and again just to hear the next bit. Like a book so painful and so raw you can only read a few chapters at a time, and although you can't say it's a joy to do so there's this draw to it because it speaks to you somehow.
I suppose in short if you're looking for a game to play Winter Voices probably isn't for you.
If you're looking for an interactive view into falling down the rabbit hole of depression and feeling uncomfortable the entire time, then yea pick this one up.
I debated for a long time whether or not I could honestly recommend this, but in the end it does deliver what it promises; an experience unlike any other. Just leave your expectations at the door, and if you do plan on getting this make sure you do it when there's a sale and it's nice and cheap so you don't feel like you lost out if it ends up not being your cup of tea.
Rating this as a 'game': 2/10
Rating this as a different experience: 8/10