Blanc – A Heartwarming Journey Through A Cold Winter

Blanc – A Heartwarming Journey Through A Cold Winter

Switch, PC

If the idea of a short game about the unlikely friendship and cooperation between a young deer and a young wolf sounds adorable to you, then you should skip reading this review and just go and play Blanc. Much of the charm to be found in this short but sweet adventure from developer Casus Ludi is in the simplicity of its premise, and the fact that it’s just impossible not to fall in love with a pair of unlikely animal friends – especially when they’re part of a story that you can experience alongside someone else. 

The wordless story of Blanc revolves around a fawn and a wolf cub who both find themselves separated from their families and stranded after a particularly nasty snowstorm ravages their home. Though initially wary of each other – which makes sense given one of them likely expected to be eaten by the other – they soon realise that the tracks of their families lead in the same direction, and their journeys will be easier if they work together to catch up to their respective groups. Plus, we all know that the rules of unlikely animal friendships are that baby animals don’t know that they’re supposed to hate each other yet – so that initial wariness wears off pretty quickly. 

The fawn, with their big gangly legs and adorable high-pitched call, can use their height to give both characters access to new parts of the world. Their legs allow them to jump to hard-to-reach places, but also to become a bridge for the wolf cub to climb to access those same areas. The wolf cub, with their fierce little mini-howl-slash-yap, can crawl through small spaces and use their teeth to cut through ropes and move objects around in the environment. There’s a definite back and forth when it comes to navigating each section, and both characters have an equal role to play in successfully completing the journey – so if you’re playing in co-op mode, both players will get to be equally involved. 


Along the way, your characters will come across other animals, some of whom will take to them more quickly than others. These animals are what allow for some variation in gameplay, introducing escort mechanics, or the ability to influence the actions of another with your character’s movements. I don’t want to spoil what these animals are or too much about what they do, because the moments where you come across them are some of the most special in the game and should be experienced firsthand. Obviously, every single one of them is cute. Not all of them integrate so smoothly into the gameplay, but the fact that they were so adorable was what encouraged me to persevere through the moments of frustration just to get them through. When you’re dealing with small animals like this, something kicks in that raises the stakes far beyond what they would be if I were trying to keep humans alive in an ongoing snowstorm. At least, it does for me. 

The game isn’t without its faults. While it is a short and moving experience and the controls are largely simplistic, they aren’t always smooth. There were moments when my housemate and I would see the path forward and attempt to position my fawn so that her wolf could climb up to a ledge, but because we were standing on the wrong side of the ledge, it didn’t give the prompt, and we were stuck. Controlling the game is done using two buttons – one to perform an action, and one to run faster, and that ‘action’ prompt changes depending on where you’re standing in the world. I wish it would give the option to perform certain actions in different positions, rather than forcing you to figure out exactly where the game wants you to be, especially given the camera occasionally decides to focus on a completely different area to what you need. I often found it frustrating, but I persevered, because I was so deeply invested in the story. I found it impossible not to be. 


Which is why I say that really, it comes down to whether or not this story is likely to be one that will pull on your heartstrings. I love its innovation, and its commitment to telling exactly the story it wanted to tell without unnecessarily extending the length of the game. There is one section where it seems like a scene might be missing because of a slightly awkward transition, and if that’s the case then it’s a shame – I would have been happy to play another level or two. But the game doesn’t need it. Any awkwardness in the gameplay quickly became irrelevant to me every time a new ally appeared on screen, and there were moments of tension created by an intense attachment to the characters that meant that when certain events transpired, everyone in the room would gasp. When it finished, I cried from the sheer emotion of it all. That won’t be for everyone, but it will be a moving experience for many.

There’s a lot to applaud here. The art style is unique and striking, and the simplicity of the controls means those less familiar with gaming will be able to pick up this game without issue. It’s a nice bonding experience for you and a partner on date night, or for you and a friend on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I played it in local co-op mode on the couch beside my housemate, but you can also play alone or online with a friend – and it’ll only take you two hours at most. Blanc is a prime example of innovation leading to a memorable gaming experience, and shows that even when a game’s mechanics aren’t perfect, the story can still stick in your heart and make an impact.

Player 2 reviewed Blanc on Nintendo Switch using a code kindly provided by Gearbox Publishing.

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