A search for a lost friend, you are Berak. A simple hunter in this cold and desolate land, tasked with searching for your lost neighbor and best friend, Hendrik, who went out to hunt and has not returned in many days. Will you survive this trek? Will you find your friend? This is the premise of the newly released adventure game The Frosts: First Ones.
The story is the main draw to The Frosts: First Ones. You are Berak, a hunter from a small village in this frozen land. Food is scarce and hunters go out in search of food pretty routinely. One morning you are approached by your friend’s wife and she informs you that Hendrik has been gone for more than a week. His family is desperate to have him found and pleads with you to find him. Maybe he took refuge in a cave or maybe he has fallen ill or become injured. It’s on you to search for clues to his whereabouts and find your lost friend.
The story isn’t too long and is the main draw to this game so I do not want to give away too much. As you leave on your search you learn a little bit about the world from the village you reside in and the other hunters you come in contact with. Through meeting an alien being in sacred lands you gain knowledge about this interesting world and that there is more to your friend’s disappearance than you first thought. While the people are primitive it’s not entirely clear when these events take place. As you progress forward the story takes some very interesting turns and it kept my attention throughout my time with the game.
When I originally saw The Frosts on Twitter I was excited to see this winter landscape and see the description of it being a platformer. While there is some jumping and climbing I really can’t call it a platformer. It’s not central to the game. This game really plays out more like a walking simulator. This is not a bad thing though. I’m not a fan of walking sims and this one kept me interested and moving forward.
You are exploring what feels like a pretty open world. However, there are definite paths you must take to progress the story. If you wander off on a different branch you will be awarded wildlife and beautiful vistas.
There isn’t much to interact with though or really any puzzles. As you search for Hendrik you will find footprints or blood and you use those to track where he went to. It’s a clever idea and one I liked however, the footprints were almost impossible to see. The game suffers from washed-out graphics that ended up masking this mechanic.
A few points in the game you will have a mechanic that is part puzzle part quick time event. These are very simple instances for climbing cliffs or helping an injured doe. Mess up and you fall or kill the doe and have to restart. While the climbing seems to have some reason to it the field surgery felt more like trial and error than anything else.
The Frosts: First Ones has a unique look to it. The top-down look paired with a blizzard and mountainous region work really well together. As I got to areas with big drop-offs you really do get a good idea that you’re high up.
The environments have distinct plants and wildlife and the caves you encounter are beautiful to look at too. While it was a bit more pixelated than I was expecting it still managed to look pretty good.
The character models definitely moved a little odd. The jump felt off. like I covered more land walking two steps than jumping. You also are just a very stiff model. It didn’t ruin the experience but it was off-putting at first.
I really quite enjoyed the soundtrack. It’s a fully original soundtrack from Anvar Hazgaleev. It does a great job of setting up the ambiance and then in the more intense parts, you get these epic guitar solos. These solos sounded like something straight out of Top Gun and I was all for it!
There is some minor voice-over work, animal sounds, and general ambiance and it all worked well together. I do like that attention was put to the sounds of your footsteps and what surface you were walking on, it did a good job of creating immersion.
Overall there weren’t a lot of bugs or operational issues with the game. I did find it odd that during talking parts you’re limited on movement. While it makes sense it felt weird. After these scenes, I would also run into an issue that wouldn’t allow me to control my character for a good 5-10 seconds. Aside from these, the game ran quite well. there were some slight localization issues, mostly some small grammatical errors but overall it was still clear what the game was trying to say.
The art style was tough. I know it’s an area in like a permanent blizzard but it felt very washed out at times. Looking for tracks was near impossible. I would rely on hovering my mouse everywhere to get the hints that show when you are over something to find footprints in the snow. I rarely actually saw them.
I also took issue with the story, specifically the ending. Now I will stay away from direct spoilers, but I felt the ending fell flat. It clues you into a lot about what is happening in this world and ultimately I ended my experience with more questions than answers.
The Frosts: First Ones was an interesting and enjoyable playthrough. The game clocked in at about 2.5 hours for me and I maintained interest and the ending did stick with me. While not necessarily for positive reasons, I think there is room for a sequel to dive more into answering the questions it leaves the player with. Overall it was enjoyable, is priced well, if not cheaper than I thought, and shows promise from a solo dev on their first outing. If you’re looking for an interesting narrative that you can get through in one sitting I would give this game a look.
Disclaimer: The Frosts: First Ones was provided to me by the developer Ivan Sukhanov for review.
The Frosts: First Ones is a walking sim that presents an intriguing narrative. With a great soundtrack and interesting world, I would recommend this for anyone looking for a different take on this genre.