In the wake of the viral hit Among Us shaking up quarantine life with the funniest forms of deceit possible in a closed off world, there is a much colder contender that looks to do the same. Project Winter is a much more involved but equally devious game, pitting survivors against each other in a frigid climate with much to manage, not to mention the traitors lurking among the group. By introducing new concepts and dynamic goals in a map that at times has limited visibility, along with resource management, Project Winter sets itself aside as a refreshing step in a new direction, albeit a more intensive one.
Project Winter is a survival game played by two teams, the survivors and the traitors. Everything you’d expect from the genre, survivors meant to complete tasks and traitors meant to kill the survivors by any means necessary. The real differences start as soon as you start the game, most notably your health bar and resource bars. Project Winter is a survival game in the strictest sense as well, you’re meant to manage your health, hunger, and warmth. This is a frozen environment, so keeping warm is of the utmost priority. Gathering materials is incredibly important for completing objectives (or crafting weapons) and that uses up both warmth and hunger. Foraging for berries and killing animals are both ways to get immediate food, but this is not the optimal way to restore those meters. By returning to the cabin and cooking the berries and meat, you create better versions of the food to either eat or share. This adds a risk factor if you’re far from camp and are running low, and there’s the possibility of encountering a traitor. What’s most interesting to me is that the survivors can arm themselves as well. Since you can make pickaxes and axes to harvest resources, you’re actually able to defend yourself against a possible traitor attack. This adds a level of danger to the traitors as well, as you need to really pick your targets carefully or flat out outnumber them. One wrong fight as the traitor and that’s it, even without getting exiled.
Gathering materials for the goals is done not only through harvesting and crafting, but finding safehouses and crates as well. These spaces are integral because some materials can’t be crafted, and these also serve as a murder hotspot for traitors if you decide to travel with the wrong person. In my first experience, the first warehouse visit ended in a total bloodbath because the traitors noticed no one had armed themselves. Even with the numbers, we couldn’t scatter quickly enough and were promptly executed. As quick as the round was, it was really funny hearing someone whistle as we all got chopped trying to get gasoline from the cabin. While this isn’t often the case, making sure you can fight back is a necessity. I’ve tried most of my survivor rounds to be the bringer of goodwill, offering cooked food and berries to what I’d think are friends while they’re gathering. I very quickly learned that full pacifism is not efficient, and was ran down while giving out food. That being said, it’s still hilarious just to end up in a situation like that. One of this game’s real strengths is how funny things end up regardless of winning or losing, and how quickly you can jump back into a game.
Project Winter, funny as it is, has a major caveat that makes or breaks the game. It really depends on who you play with. Social games like this are a thousand times more fun with friends, and being a solo player only goes so far if you can make your own fun. The community is a strong factor as well, as it is REALLY easy to get some bad eggs in your game. There are only 5 reports a day available, and in my first match I had to use 3 of them. Knowing your group of friends is playing with you and messing with them is usually much more fun than playing solo, and so this game’s accessibility on GamePass is a huge plus. Project Winter’s survival management systems are a great addition to the survivors vs traitors trope and the dynamic goals and weather offer a lot of variation to the game. Loading a plate up of things to manage all while keeping track of who might be hunting you is a great idea, and Project Winter really feels strong as a survival title.
Score: 8 out of 10
Reviewed on Xbox One