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A Winter’s Daydream review for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One, Switch


Platform: PS Vita
Also on: PS4, PC, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher: Sometimes You
Developer: ebi-hime
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

Even though I’m by no means a fan of visual novels, thanks to my Vita obsession I’ve certainly played more than my fair share of them. And, based on that, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect when it comes to the genre. I know that, for the most part, you’re basically just there to move the text forward and enjoy the story. There are some visual novels that help you to shape the story, but, just as frequently, you’ll find the games only ask that you read what’s on the screen, and nothing more.

Even by those very passive standards, however, A Winter’s Daydream seems particularly undemanding. It’s a straightforward story with a beginning, and a middle, and an end, and for the most part, you’re just getting three or so hours of static screens with text on them. Every so often the screen will shake or you’ll have some kind of minimal action, but for the most part, this game is a strict reading exercise.

While I wouldn’t say that the story here is engrossing, I’ve certainly read worse. Because it’s so short, and because it’s so linear, it never goes wildly off-the-rails like so many other games in the genre are prone to do. (Though, admittedly, going wildly off-the-rails is what makes some of these games so enjoyable.). You’ll be able to follow the plot without going through all kinds of non sequiturs and sudden changes of pace, which is pretty welcome.

Also pretty welcome: the fact that the characters here are fairly decent people. They’re pleasant to be around — which, considering the visual novel norm, is a nice change of pace. They seem thoughtful and rounded, rather than just being the usual stereotypes that populate a lot of these games.

What’s more, they’re surprisingly non-pervy. After all, we’re talking about a plot where a young man, Yuu, returns home from his move to Tokyo, gets harangued by his sister for not having purchased her a bikini, flees to his grandmother’s house, and then wakes up one morning and sees — and I’m quoting from the game’s description here — that “his grandmother has transformed into a cute young girl!” If that’s not the set-up for all kinds of uncomfortable incest jokes and innuendo, I don’t know what is.

And yet, apart from one or two moments where people mistake Yuu and his grandmother for a couple, in general A Winter’s Daydream is a lot more sentimental than anything else. It’s a heartfelt, earnest story of a young man reconnecting with a grandmother who’s grieving the loss of her husband, and who uses that as motivation to rebuild his relationship with his sister as he realizes the fleeting nature of life. To his credit, Yuu is the kind of person who reflects on what he experiences before he reacts, which is a nice character trait to see, in fiction and in real life.

Of course, it doesn’t exactly make for the most compelling or most memorable game. Truth be told, I have a hard time imagining this game is going to stick with me for all that long, in contrast with other games that are nowhere near as coherent. But there’s still something to be said for being as straightforward and as pleasantly decent as A Winter’s Daydream is. It’s unlike most other visual novels I’ve ever played, and, for that reason alone, it’s not the worst game in the world to check out if you’re a fan of visual novels.

Sometimes You provided us with an A Winter’s Daydream PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B+