Bundle Up and Keep Playing: Top 9 Games with Winter Mechanics
We picked nine games of a different genre, both recent releases and good old classics, where snow and cold play an important role and influence gameplay directly
Fade to Silence is upon us! The gritty survival-RPG is going to be a memorable one, and in honor of the recent release from Black Forest Games, we decided to remember games where snow is not a decoration, but a threat, and where the weather actually affects the gameplay. Let’s dive in!
Released on April 24, 2018, for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4
It’s 1886, and Krakatoa and Mount Tambora violently erupt, dimming the Sun. Humanity is thrown into the realities of global volcanic winter. As its name suggests, Frostpunk is a proper cold game. This city-building simulator with elements of survival is brutal. The main theme is keeping everyone in the coal-rich North warm by any means possible. ‘’How’’ is the main question. But don’t dillydally: the Final Storm is coming, which means swift death for all the unprepared.
In Frostpunk, heating homes is a must. For that, we use heaters, insulate houses and build steam hubs. The most important building is the Heat Generator Tower – a massive source of heat and power for the whole city. It needs a lot of coal, but without it, there’s no hope of survival. When cold, people get sick more often, get frostbitten, and generally voice their dissatisfaction with the way you run business.
Players must constantly upgrade houses and make them both more comfortable and reliable. There are many games with weather effects, but not a lot where cold acts as the main adversary. If you want a truly Siberian experience, nothing gets icier than Frostpunk. It’s hard to remember another game where cold mattered that much.
Released on April 23, 2013, for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Wii U, Xbox One, iOS, Android
In 2013, survival genre was all the rage – in many ways thanks to fantastic games like Don't Starve, which defined the genre. The cute and grotesque title from Klei Entertainment puts Wilson, a gentleman scientist, in a dreary world full of horrifying creatures and scary natural phenomena. He must survive at any cost, using all the tools he has at his disposal. There’s not much in terms of plot, and the main theme is pretty simple – don’t die. Because if you do, everything starts from the beginning.
Cold plays a big role in Don't Starve. Wilson quickly finds that surviving winter is no easy task. Thus he builds campfires, dons warm clothing and creates useful artifacts like thermal stones. Growing a luscious beard also helps, believe it or not.
Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason
Released on December 5, 2008, for PC
Not the most fondly remembered game out there, Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason is still a very creative title from the now-defunct Action Forms studio from Ukraine. Its main feature is the Mental Echo system, which allows the player to change other characters’ actions in the past. How? By invading their memories! It does sound cool, doesn’t it? (You see what I did there?)
The game is not easy, in many ways thanks to its wintry setting – Cryostasis takes place on a Soviet Arktika-class nuclear-powered icebreaker. Our protagonist Alexandr Nesterov, a meteorologist, fights former crewmembers of the mammoth ship and tries to save the others by modifying their past. The player has to keep track of body heat; otherwise, our avatar will drop dead, no enemies needed.
There are four different types of hypothermia, and only near heat sources can we replenish HP, which makes Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason a very nervous endeavor indeed. Take notice of anything that can warm you: lamps, fires, stoves, even car engines. Otherwise, you won’t live to see another day.
Released on August 20, 2002, for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC
John Carpenter’s The Thing will always be remembered as the perfect horror flick. For years the fans have been asking for a proper sequel, but it was not to be. Or was it? In 2002, the world was blessed with The Thing in video game form. A true sequel that respects the source in every way possible. But as a video game, it has quickly lost its relevance due to archaic graphics and incompatible platforms. However, we are here to remind you that this title from Computer Artworks still deserves your attention.
In The Thing, you not only fight countless alien enemies of various kinds but also keep track of your own allies who (ideally) obey your every order. But when they are scared, it affects their behavior. Help them, and they’ll help you. Let them believe that you’re a deadly being from outer space, and they’ll turn against you.
The Thing is also a very cold game, set in Antarctica. The first thing it tells you is not to stroll around carelessly in freezing temperatures. That may prove to be lethal – ask Luke Skywalker. When you and especially your allies take damage due to weather, it affects overall performance and makes the game even harder than it is. That’s important because Fear is a crucial stat. Also, use flamethrower all the time. It keeps you warm and your enemies real warm.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Released on December 21, 2006, for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Meet Planet E.D.N. III – a new home for humanity, which has finally succeeded in destroying the Earth. It’s not a particularly welcoming home through – the frozen world is enjoying a brutal ice age, and its deadly surface is littered with insectoid aliens called the Akrid. We tried – and failed – to fight the bugs, and now the remains of humans live as ‘’snow pirates.’’ The main character Wayne Holden tries to help colonize the planet and destroy the Akrid.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition tells a grisly story about harsh weather, brutal aliens and egotistical megacorporations. Our avatars wear mechanized suits in hope to stay warm in these inhumane conditions. The planet is cold, and thermal energy (T-Eng) is constantly decreasing. Only killing enemies and activating data posts allows humans to stay warm – and alive.
Wayne survives largely thanks to the Harmonizer – a wearable device that allows him to purify T-Eng and use it to battle cold weather and injuries, as well as slow the aging process.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Released on October 26, 2018, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Probably the most realistic and photorealistic game on our list, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an honest to god blockbuster. It’s massive, beautiful and as authentic as it can be. The main protagonist, Arthur Morgan, is a weathered outlaw, trying to make sense of the fast-changing world around him.
Danger is everywhere: the wildlife, the government, the other desperados – everyone want a piece of him and his gang. Arthur is also a living human, which means he needs to eat, drink, rest and wash. And when he leaves the warm and comfortable areas to visit mountainous regions of the Grizzlies, it gets cold quickly, which he instantly notices.
In Red Dead Redemption 2, snow does not only look spectacular but also a means it’s time to change your outfit. If our hero is dressed for a luau while waist-deep in snow, his health will deteriorate. Snow also slows you down considerably and lowers visibility. Snow Storms are especially dangerous. Arthur won’t regenerate HP or will, but very slowly. That means he should change into something warm. Thankfully, his horse can act as a portable wardrobe. Still, even it can actually die due to harsh weather. And yes, y’all heard about the shrinking horse testicles. Amazing, we know.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Released on March 3, 2017, for Nintendo Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a miracle of human thought and almost a perfect game in every way. There are tons of small details that make it a true work of art, like diverse weather conditions, which affect our main hero in different ways. The world of Hyrule is massive, with various climate zones that demand special gear and potions.
For example, early in the game the players get to learn the hard way why clothing choices matter. Outfits are not only a fashion statement but also a means of survival. When it’s cold, Link starts losing precious hearts and will in the end die. You can gobble up any food you can find in your bottomless pockets, but it won’t last you for long. What you need is heat: stay near a campfire, travel with a torch, or, better yet, find proper clothing. You can get a Warm Doublet early in the game by doing a simple quest, and that will make your life all that easier.
By the way, sometimes snow and ice hide loot, so always melt things that get in your way. You can even find a shrine with the help of a giant snowball or use your shield as a snowboard.
Assassin's Creed: Rogue
Released on November 11, 2014, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
By 2014, the Assassin's Creed series has turned naval. People loved playing pirates, and Ubisoft duly obliged by creating another episode with sea battles at the core. A bizarre turn, but it worked. Assassin's Creed: Rogue, originally released for Xbox 360 and PS3, tells the story of Shay Patrick Cormac, a former Assassin who is on the hunt for former members of his Brotherhood.
The gameplay is similar to the massively popular Black Flag – maybe, a bit too similar. But still, the players enjoyed being a Templar for a change as well as having a truly complex protagonist.
The North Atlantic plays a big role in the game: this icy region is a fantastic playground for wannabe pirates: icebergs can be used as cover during combat or be broken to find hidden treasures within. Install an ice ram and you’ll be able to reach secret areas. But don’t think about taking a swim in freezing waters – that can and will prove lethal for Cormac.
The Long Dark
Released on September 22, 2014, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
Bone-chilling cold, the unforgiving terrain, ruthless fauna, a plane crash – only a Canadian can survive this. Thankfully, Will Mackenzie is just that. No one will envy his fate: lost in the Northern Canadian Wilderness in the aftermath of the global disaster, he has to do anything in his power to stay alive and find Astrid Greenwood, his wife. Modern civilization is no more – he has only himself to rely on.
The Long Dark is a stressful experience. This first-person survival game simulates every little thing that can go wrong. The players have to take note of body temperature, fatigue, hunger, caloric intake etc. to keep their avatar breathing. Our protagonist has to forage for wood and fuel, don warm clothes, find shelter in caves and houses.
Resources are sparse, and Will searches every crook and nanny in hopes of finding something – anything. Cold is his main enemy, but he can’t forget wolves and bears, who are as hungry and desperate as him. It is a hard, challenging game that simulates the end of the world with scary accuracy. It certainly cements Will Mackenzie as one of the badassest badasses in the medium’s history.