If On a Winter's Night, Four Travelers Review - Tollway to Hell
Updated: Jul 7
If On a Winter's Night, Four Travelers
If On a Winter's Night, Four Travelers is a point-and-click adventure that actually only has three travelers, although the game presumably counts the incredibly short Act IV to arrive at its title. It is a framed narrative in which the travelers tell their stories to an old woman on a train in sequence, and it will be apparent almost immediately that this is a train to hell. The travelers have all died following traumatic events and even more traumatic responses, and the old woman wants to hear their stories. I will say up front that the stories are not any more linked than that and that the game ends abruptly, so if you're looking for a neatly tied narrative or strong thematic linkages, you won't get it here.
Gameplay varies a bit from act to act. The first one is as basic of a point-and-click as you can possibly imagine, but is also seemingly the only one where your dialogue choices have any real significance. Act II completely does away with speaking to other characters, but instead has you going back and forth between rooms to solve order-of-operations puzzles. Act III is something of a blend of the two - there are characters to talk to and puzzles to solve, but it's all very linear and all the puzzles after the first room are just a matter of clicking on everything. The game takes about two hours to play, and you'll probably spend 50 minutes on each of Acts II and III, 15 minutes on Act I, and at most 5 on the cutscene that calls itself Act IV. None of them really feel like they got the balance of gameplay variety and length right, but II and III at least have some memorable scenes and visuals.
As mentioned before, the story doesn't go anywhere. Each of the scenes are at least initially interesting on their own, but they don't link together in any meaningful way and the longer acts don't develop most of their threads very far. Is it bad? No. I just don't expect to remember much of it in a month.
Lastly, sound and graphics: Okay and quite good. The sound design does its job and no more, but the visuals are consistently the best part of the game. Almost everything looks as good as you'd hope from screenshots - the only time I felt that the graphics weren't up to the task was in a scene near the end when the color palette and brightness combined to make it quite hard to see.
If is an easy recommendation largely because it's free. If this was even $5, I might come in neutral on account of the lack of any unifying themes and dragging acts, but for a free game it's reasonably impressive. If you need a short game that'll run on anything and don't want to spend much on it, it's worth a look. I wouldn't rush out to play it in any other circumstance, though.
Time to beat: 2 hours.