It’s cold out, freezing even. You’re cold, hungry, and trapped in a tiny room with a bunch of people and you’re pretty sure at least one of them wants to kill you and all you want to do is figure out a way to go home. No, it’s not an especially awkward family Christmas, it’s the premise of Other Ocean Interactive’s new game, Project Winter.
Called an “8 person multiplayer game of deception and survival” by Other Ocean, what that means in practice is a game where you are attempting to survive in and escape from a harsh winter wonderland while at least one of your teammates wants to murder you. On the surface, that might sound similar to 2020’s surprise hit Among Us, and both games do take inspiration from John Carpenter’s The Thing, but Project Winter takes more than just the idea of an impostor from the film, but also the harsh and unforgiving cold being just as deadly.
In Project Winter, the environment is just as much your foe as your fellow player, with the blistering cold, wild animals, disorienting blizzards, and more all threatening to end your bid to escape in their own way. To win, you must survive, and to survive you need to keep track of three important things: your health, your heat, and your hunger. To do all three, you need to go out into blistering cold to gather supplies to craft into useful tools, to make into food and fist aid kits, and to repair the various facilities you must repair in order to escape. Be on the lookout for power stations, laboratories, bunkers, helipads and other helpful locations, but be wary because the wilderness also contains vicious animals, strange weather, murderous traitors, and anything else that might try and delay your escape until the harsh winter pens you in.
Yes, you are on a time limit and the way to win is not simply surviving. It's not about identifying and killing the traitor, though you can find a truth serum to help you figure out who the traitor might be. It's about escaping while you still can. And to do that, you need to complete objectives to help restore power, boost signal, everything to fix a radio so a rescue chopper can get you off the frozen patch of nothing you’re trapped in. And even once you've called it, you haven't won until it's arrived and you're on board, so you have to manage your resources and watch your back right to the very last minute..
If survivors win by escaping, then how to traitors win? By preventing survivors from escaping, of course. This can be done by killing them, yes, and traitors have plenty of special weapons to help with this, but they can also do it by sabotaging objectives with traitor credits, literally undoing a survivor’s work to escape. Both methods, murder and sabotage, can be aided with the help of traitor caches and travel tubes, which give traitors access to helpful items (and traitor credits) and allow them to zip between locations around the map respectively. Careful though, travel tubes are noisy and will expose you if you get seen using one.
Also, the roles aren’t just limited to survivor and traitor. Both survivor and traitors can specialize as soldiers, hackers, medics, and scientists. Soldiers get access to the armory after completing one objective, hackers can open the fortified but important bunkers on their own by expending resources, medics can heal others at the expense of their own health, and scientists can revive dead players with a "Lazarus machine" found on the map. There are also survivor only roles such as the defector (who can open traitor crates), the innocent (who give a score bonus to survivors if they escape at the end of the game), and the detective (who can examine dead bodies and determine cause of death).
Most interesting to me though was the identity thief role. This role starts the game completely neutral, appearing as traitor to survivor and survivor to traitor if the truth serum is used to determine their allegiance. They have to find a dead body and become that person’s role. If they were a survivor medic, they become a survivor medic. If they were a traitor scientist, they become a traitor scientist and have to win based on that role’s rules. It’s a fascinating wrinkle to an already masterfully complex scenario, and sure to keep you on your toes.
If you like playing Among Us, or you like repeated viewings of The Thing, or if you just want to try and survive an unforgiving environment or condemn others to an icy demise, then Project Winter will give you hours and hours of entertainment.