#7 Alexey’s Winter
Point-and-clicks are my weakness. The genre is deeply woven into the very fabric of what makes me the gamer I am today. With each new experience, I’m tightly wrapped in nostalgia – that familiar, warm, comforting visit from an old friend. So when asked if I wanted to play Alexey’s Winter, how could I say no?
1980. A dark snowy winter somewhere in the USSR. This is where an atmospheric 2D Point-and-Click adventure starts. The game consists of 3 episodes, is non-violent and easy to play. The graphics are completely pencil drawn.
Developed and published by Nezhysoft, the first episode of Alexey’s Winter was originally launched as a mobile game in 2017. To date, the game has had more than 200,000 downloads on mobile. For PC, a second and third episode were added, along with some overall design adjustments, before making its way to Steam on the 4th of April 2021.
The year is 1989 and you are somewhere in the Soviet Union. It is a cold winters night and having just returned from the shops, you find you have lost the keys to your apartment. This is the premise to episode one. As Alexey, you must find your keys so that you can get home and get warm.
The first episode takes place entirely in one screen. Everything you can see has been impressively drawn by hand, the music is calm and relaxing, and there is a constant snowfall that is out of focus but it does a great job of adding to the atmosphere. Movement is slow but fitting – you may be stranded outside at night and in bad weather, but the protagonist takes their time and doesn’t rush anything. With the game taking place at night, locations are naturally quite dark, but there is a light source that surrounds Alexey and when you interact with the world – LMB to look and RMB to use – that light will go to where you have clicked. I’ve not seen this in a point-and-click before and the implementation of it works well. No point-and-click is complete without an inventory, and Alexey’s takes the form of a worn-out suitcase. It has seen better days but still does the business of storing your shovel, sausages, and snowballs in.
The majority of the screen is taken up by an apartment block and as you move through episode one, it was lovely to see the neighbourhood come alive. Lights turn on, acting as a gently nudge that you’re on the right track, and your neighbours get involved in a manner of ways. You’ll see your friend Masha on the first floor cooking soup, or you’ll chat to your Uncle Petya on the ground floor, who is constantly wanting to eat. Some residents are deaf, some pop out for a smoke, and there is a grumpy janitor who won’t help you for free. It all adds to a living and breathing little slice of the world, which can be hard to pull off in this genre.
There are no voice overs, conversations are succinct, with no dialogue options, and the consistent level of humour is as blunt as the weather. I hope the setting of the game has been accurately portrayed. These characters have a tough living and this is wonderfully expressed in their concise personalities. I was completely sold on the people and environment around me.
The end of episode one sees you back home but your adventure is far from over. Before you know it, you are outside once more and on a mission of far greater importance. What I loved about episodes two and three are how they opened up the world. You’ll start to visit more of the neighbourhood and therefore meet more characters – some good, some bad.
All three episodes are short and the game can be completed in under an hour if you’ve got your thinking caps on. As always, its hard to accurately comment on the difficulty of puzzles of this nature, but if you get stuck, the game has been out a little while and walkthroughs and guides are available – Alexey’s Winter: Night adventure – Walkthrough + Achievements – Lilly’s Corner Reviews (lillycorner.com). Lilly’s Corner offers great support, that includes how to unlock the seven Steam achievements within the game.
I enjoyed Alexey’s Winter. The game has a charm and the effort and authenticity surrounding the characters, locations, and events really add to a memorable experience. The premise is so simple but from it grows a compelling narrative. I would like to see more adventures starring Alexey. I hope Nezhysoft gets the support required for this to happen.
Alexey’s Winter is available now on Steam, with episode 1 free on mobile.