I'd like to preface this first by saying I supremely enjoyed this. I was always excited to have free time to play and quickly devoured it. Sat huddled in the games room with my partner, we stared eagerly at the TV during every minute from start to finish. So, yes, it's bloody good.
Graphics: For a small studio, excellent. The snowfall, the wind, the lighting, the mood lighting in housing and outside from campfires, headlights etc. The details on textures is pretty good. Aside from not that great water, it was gorgeous to explore through. Less so at the beginning prior to the snow, which I felt the team excelled in. Bloody lovely.
Mechanics: The item wheel is brilliant, if only you could change the hotkeys for up, down, left and right. Aside from this issue, it works very well, and looks sharp and sleek. Not a problem. Movement was easy, running was naturally and felt laboured in places as it should. Looking about was defaulted on a great sensitivity from a detectives perspective, allowing steady investigations to help players take their time and not rush passed so easily. For me the mechanics mirror that of many triple A games. Snapping shots of phenomena, collecting items, reading journals. It all reminded me of L.A. Noire.
SFX/Music: Incredible! Numerous times I crapped myself during some of the darker, more ominous moments of the game. Fearful to shine a torch down a corridor or step outside the hut at night with my back turned. Damn it worked well, the low, drawn out notes building tension really worked. Weather SFX, snow crunching, car and snowmobile sounds were all also very good and authentic. Never did I feel broken from immersion. To add to that though, the narration over the top was excellent. It added a whole new layer to the story telling and added a little wit and humour along the way. As a Brit I thoroughly laughed at a few moments and enjoyed the comedic touches where appropriate.
Story: This is where it becomes hugely 50/50 for me. The entire game enthralled me, pulling me into a dark, supernatural murder mystery. Nothing made sense and I was fascinated. So, to keep my nose in it, I took pictures of all evidence, made extra notes of smashed glass etc. I read all journals and letters. I did the lot (though with some areas I didn't back-track to). But, to arrive at the end, get chased by the Wendigo and have it end abruptly was both frustrating and poetic at the same time. The actual gameplay was tough, fun, exciting and ultimately good. But for me, I felt that all my investigations were essentially useless. The game revealed all the answers without any resistance. Me and my partner just exchanged looks like, 'Wow, was that it? What about the evidence? Why did I bother? What about Hamilton's house?'
So I suppose, in that sense, my one big gripe is a backhanded compliment. I enjoyed the game so much I required more of it. I needed a proper nourishing but my criticism crucially is less about the story choice to end it like that, instead to render the evidence gathering meaningless (or almost meaningless) as you don't need to apply it what so ever. You can avoid ever looking at your journal for instance.
So I wish the answers hadn't been revealed, that in fact I escaped, got to shore, made my way to Hamilton's house, found the final pieces, was tested by the game to solve the case using evidence I'd gathered. The puzzle longer or shorter to solve depending on how well I had looted and read and listened. But alas, that was not to be. Either way, I highly recommend and the experience itself was glorious. Would play again.
I did a playthrough on my twitch under Jasongunslinger. I also recommend checking that out.