“Snowhaven” is a charming interactive fiction game that focuses more on its atmospheric setting than specific puzzles.
Gameplay: The bulk of the gameplay consists of fairly straightforward puzzles encountered by the protagonist as he prepares for his sibling’s visit. While solving them, he ruminates on the situation with his sibling and reflects on his environment. There are also variations of the game available, promising a pleasant, emotive, or sinister story. I didn’t explore any beyond the first one I played in detail, though, and the sinister one is locked behind a password. 5/10.
Mechanics: The focus of the game is its setting and the protagonist’s part in it. There’s a clear list of tasks to perform, and they’re more of an excuse to wander around and muse on the protagonist’s situation rather than anything particularly novel in themselves (though I did like the puzzle involving the combination to the storage chest early in the game). There were a few bits of awkwardness with the interface, though, such as an inability to look up a stew recipe in a cookbook (you need to supply the specific kind of stew you’re trying to make, which can be found elsewhere) and an empty response when try to GET IN BOAT. 5/10.
Presentation: The game features stark black-and-white graphics and a relaxing soundtrack, both of which nicely complement its isolated, slow-moving setting. The recollections or musings of the protagonist develop his personality and build up the reader’s interest in what would otherwise be a traditional game about set-piece puzzles and exploration. Fundamentally, “Snowhaven” is a game about creating a specific kind of atmosphere, and it does so effectively. 7/10.
You might enjoy this game if: You enjoy bucolic winter landscapes.