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Closer the Distance screenshot

Out this year, Closer the Distance is The Sims meets Life is Strange

It starts with a tragedy. The worst kind, actually. A young woman has been killed in a road traffic accident. Her name was Angela, and her death doesn’t just affect her immediate family: it’s felt throughout the community. In Closer the Distance from Osmotic Studios and Skybound Games, due out later this year, it’s your job to pick up the pieces and try to heal a town’s collective broken heart.

We’ve had our hands on a preview of Closer the Distance that let us experience its first hour or so — just enough time to get to know some of the characters and a taste of how the game plays out. It’s safe to say that we’ve walked away intrigued, keen to know more about Angela, her family, and the rest of the small town coming to terms with a terrible accident.

Initially, you’re given control of Conny, Angela’s younger sister. Conny has a unique connection to her lost sister: she can still hear her. Of course, trying to explain that to anyone else is more trouble than it’s worth, so she keeps her connection to herself initially. After a while, you’ll also be given control of the town’s doctor, who had a close bond with Angela.

Closer the Distance screenshot
Image: Osmotic Studios/Skybound Games

When in control of a character, you’ll have a series of tasks to complete along with needs to take care of. Like The Sims, your characters have hunger and sleep meters, but you’ll also find some stats unique to a particular character. For Conny, for example, Routine and Harmony are important, but for Zek, a close friend of Angela, he needs Distraction and Accomplishment.

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Every character in Closer the Distance has wishes and needs, in fact, even if you’re never given control of them. You’ll be able to observe any character in town, but it’s only a select few you can command to complete tasks. As Conny, for example, your first task is simply going around the town, talking to everyone and making sure they’re OK.

Closer the Distance screenshot
Image: Osmotic Studios/Skybound Games

Closer the Distance’s story is key here, and it weaves an emotional, human tale. Dealing with grief and loss, it’s going to pull at your heart strings, and as you progress through the game you’ll uncover more of the town’s secrets, what makes its residents tick and, perhaps most importantly, what was going on in Angela’s life before she died.

Every character is voiced, which helps make connecting with them that bit easier. Its presentation, at least to begin with, is a little odd: this isn’t simply a story we can watch play out. We’ll need to click on certain characters to witness their scenes at a particular time, and so it takes a bit of time to get used to. But it’s a unique way of telling a story: it’s Life is Strange by way of The Sims — and as a combination, it actually works.

If you’re a fan of human stories, particularly those that deal with loss and grief, Closer the Distance is well worth keeping an eye on. It’s due out on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC later this year.

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