Winter Polaris - PC (Steam) Review

Winter-Polaris-SS-1-560x315 Winter Polaris - PC (Steam) Review

Forget the fan service; Winter Polaris leaves a much deeper, meaningful impact.

Specs (PC)
OS: Windows 7 or Higher
Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4 or Higher
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: Integrated Graphics or Better
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Storage: 2 GB available space

Who it Caters to

Winter-Polaris-SS-1-560x315 Winter Polaris - PC (Steam) Review
Winter Polaris caters to fans of visual novels first and foremost. It’s not a competitive game for winning and losing; it's an artistic game that is meant to tell a story. For visual novel fans, Winter Polaris stands apart as a serious story that doesn’t use humour and fan service to appeal to the audience. Instead, it’s targeted at gamers who are looking for a more intense narrative with a focus on character development and a heavy plot.

That means Winter Polaris also caters to people that wouldn’t normally play a visual novel because they don’t want just fan service and pandering; this game is not that. Instead, people who like serious anime, manga, and novels are the ones who would like Winter Polaris the most. It caters to anyone looking for a deeper story, characters they can get invested in, and a game they can’t necessarily predict every step of the way.

What to Expect

Winter-Polaris-SS-1-560x315 Winter Polaris - PC (Steam) Review
Winter Polaris is a mystery visual novel that tells two strange stories. Both stories involve mysterious girls that have unknown pasts that are somehow connected to the main character. You can expect mysteries that are fairly hard to predict and will keep you clicking to the next page, wondering what will happen next and pushing forward to the end. Like a good book, Winter Polaris keeps you guessing and reading, so you can expect a lot of guessing, tension, and entertainment all along the way.

Winter Polaris is a visual novel, so it’s important to expect visual novel gameplay. That means no fighting, health bars, inventory, experience, etc. Rather, it’s like reading a book that is fully illustrated and voice acted for you. You are just along for the ride, taking the place of the main character as the story unfolds before you. While you can expect to feel like a part of the story if you let yourself get immersed in the narrative, you do not actually affect the story itself at all. Especially if you aren’t used to playing visual novels, it’s important to expect this going into it.


Winter-Polaris-SS-1-560x315 Winter Polaris - PC (Steam) Review
As stated above, Winter Polaris is not one story, but two. The first story has the same name as the game, Winter Polaris. It’s set in present-day Tokyo when a strange phenomenon begins to sweep across the world. Those affected by this “disease” literally seem to disappear into thin air. The protagonist of Winter Polaris is desperate to escape and not become the next victim, so he flees from the city into the mountains. He lives there for years, believing he is the only one who was spared. Eventually, desperately lonely, he ventures back into the ruins of Tokyo. There, he unexpectedly finds a girl waiting for him. And to make things even stranger, she says she is immortal. What does she want with him?

The second story is called Sweeper Swimmer. The main character, Elena, lives in a rural seaside town where she works as a courier. When she goes to make some deliveries by sea after a big storm, Elena discovers a girl floating in the water, barely alive. Elena scrambles to rescue the girl, and the girl drops a strange object made of glass. Upon further inspection, Elena discovers the object is beyond any technology and craftsmanship she has ever seen. Who is this mysterious girl, and what is the strange item she has with her?


Winter-Polaris-SS-1-560x315 Winter Polaris - PC (Steam) Review
Winter Polaris is a visual novel, so gameplay is simple. For those inexperienced with visual novels, it’s basically like reading a book. But instead of just text, the story is accompanied by full illustrations, colourful characters, and voice acting. That’s exactly what Winter Polaris does. Gameplay consists of reading or listening to the story as it plays out on the screen alongside varying still animation pictures. All you have to do is click when you’re ready to “turn the page,” or more literally, advance to the next screen. There’s no experience or levelling up or bosses or death to worry about. You simply step into the shoes of the main character and experience the story at your own pace. It’s simple for anyone to play!

Winter Polaris fully supports Steam’s achievements so you can compare your progress with your friends and revel in your own achievements.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

Winter-Polaris-SS-1-560x315 Winter Polaris - PC (Steam) Review
While many visual novels are just meant to be funny or sexy, Winter Polaris is anything but. It’s a very serious visual novel setting out to tell a mysterious story about loneliness and the point of existence. And it does it very, very well. While many visual novels fall victim to meandering storylines and fan service, Winter Polaris stays on track. It keeps you wanting to go to the next screen to find out what happens. It makes you feel truly invested in the characters. And it will undeniably tug at your heartstrings at least once before you reach the ending.

Honey's Pros:

  • Winter Polaris isn’t actually that long, so it’s not such a daunting task for busy people. Some visual novels are a huge time commitment to get through, but Winter Polaris isn’t one of them.
  • Winter Polaris is simple enough that literally anyone can play it and enjoy the experience without stress. All you have to do is click!
  • The art in Winter Polaris is beautiful. You may find yourself occasionally lingering on the screen to enjoy it (that is if you can keep yourself from devouring the mystery narrative long enough to do so!).
  • Winter Polaris is really emotional. It does an incredible job of making you actually care about the characters and their narrative, and tells a story dealing with very real human feelings. If you’re sensitive, be sure to have tissues ready, because Winter Polaris will stir up the emotions of everyone.

Honey's Cons:

  • Winter Polaris isn’t very long. We listed it as a pro too, but there are two sides to the coin. For some visual novel fans, the short length will be disappointing. Others may not feel like the game was long enough for the cost.
  • Winter Polaris deals with some dark themes that may be off-putting to some gamers (like suicide and gore). While not necessarily a con for everyone, it’s good to know before starting the game in case that’s a deal-breaker for you.
  • Winter Polaris has a very specific presentation style that takes adjusting to. It uses thick black borders with a thin line of art in the middle, unlike most visual novels that have full-page illustrations.
  • Winter Polaris does not distinguish which character is talking when no avatar is displayed. If you don’t know their voices or aren’t paying close attention, it’s easy to get confused about who is saying what.

Honey's Final Verdict:

Winter-Polaris-SS-1-560x315 Winter Polaris - PC (Steam) Review
Winter Polaris is a game with a really great narrative. It has two stories for the price of one, and they both are interconnected in ways that you would not expect and may not even notice at first. The themes are deep ones and are likely to stir up a range of emotions in players - both positive and negative. The characters are well-developed, and the pacing keeps you wanting to play until it’s finished. The art is very beautiful though admittedly small between its thick, black borders. Overall, if you like visual novels or dark, serious anime, books, or manga, Winter Polaris is definitely worth a play-through. You may have never heard of it before you start, but you won’t quickly forget it when you finish.

Have you played Winter Polaris? What did you think of it? Do you want to try it out now? Do you usually play visual novels, or are you going to give this one a chance since it’s not your usual VN? Drop us a question or comment before you leave!

Winter-Polaris-SS-1-560x315 Winter Polaris - PC (Steam) Review


Author: Jet Nebula

Living the dream in Tokyo, where you can find me working at a theme café catered towards women. When I’m not writing for Honey’s, I’m working on original dystopian science fiction or blogging about Tokyo’s trendy coffee scene. I spend my free time in Harajuku and Shibuya wearing alternative Japanese street fashion. I love video games, J-rock, tattoos, and Star Wars.

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