Snow is beautiful.
And freezing and wet and sloshy and easily dirty, and (when there is too much of it) miserable.
However, in games, none of the negatives associated with the wintry goodness come through. This may explain why I quite enjoy snow in games, when in reality, I am not such a fan.
Now allow me to be clear: my locale of choice in games is a tropical climate. I am a sucker for palm trees, lush vegetation, and clear water. I am fortunate enough to live in a year-round warm climate and, when it isn’t pushing 100 degrees, I adore it. In fact, just a couple of days ago while I was out walking, the ice cream man drove past me. In December.
Back to snowflakes.
After thinking about all the amazing and snowy locations in various games, I thought I’d round out the week by sharing my favorites with you. In alphabetical order, here we go!
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Oh how I adore Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The first year I played it (where I only missed one day of playing out of 365, and even then only because I was terribly sick), I marveled at the changing seasons. But one of the highlights was that first December when I logged in and found it gently snowing. It was delightful! I carefully wandered around my town, looking at the flowers and trees and buildings just in awe of how a light layer of snow changed everything. As you can see above, I had a nice little sit down on my favorite tree stump and took it all in.
Borderlands 2: How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day DLC
The main image at the top of this piece is of Gingerton, the town this DLC takes place in. It is lovely and bizarre and very Borderlands. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as amused by an attack as by the murderous snowmen in this DLC, and nothing could prepare me for meeting an NPC who let me know that last year for Christmas he got rickets.
As you can tell, it’s not your run of the mill holiday DLC. I loved it.
Far Cry 4
The image above is from the Valley of the Yeti DLC, but there were also locations in the main game where snowy regions prevailed. With current gen technology and particle effects being what they are, snow looks all the more magical. This game was no exception.
Journey is one of the most beautiful and moving games I’ve experienced, however nothing could prepare me for the snowy portion of the trek and the ensuing moments. It left me breathless.
Okami is one of the most unique and artistic games I’ve played, and the snowy environs were just as lovely as you’d expect. They were also a bit whimsical with all the sliding on ice, and eventually making ever-larger snowballs.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider has some of the best snow effects I’ve seen in a game. Prior to release, I had read that a significant effort had been put into them and it shows. They convey the ruthlessness of the Siberian wilderness.
Though the un-modded graphics look a bit dated now, Skyrim still has some of the most striking snowy vistas in gaming. Just looking at this screenshot makes me want to boot up the game. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it eventually sees a release on current gen consoles, or that we get a new entry in the Elder Scrolls series sooner than later.
Tearaway had some of the most deeply whimsical snow effects I’ve ever seen: I designed the snowflakes myself. I had no idea the effect this would have on me until I saw them all, floating on the papercraft wind, and I was tickled beyond measure.
It’s funny, but until I made this list, I had no idea that there were so many games with wintry levels that I loved.
Which snowy levels in games have stayed in your mind? Do you revisit them at this time of year?
And with that, I leave you with an adorable image I found while compiling those for this piece: a real life husky puppy who bears a striking resemblance to Okami’s Amaterasu.