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Simpler Times screenshot

Simpler Times review – A cosy and meditative trip through time

Although it only lasts a couple of hours, Simpler Times spans 10 years. You’ll spend time in four different moments of a young girl’s life, learning about her from the items dotted around her bedroom. Like Unpacking, you’ll never see our protagonist, but by the time you’re done with the game, you’ll feel like you know her life intimately.

You see, by playing four different records on her record player, you’ll be taken to four different moments of her life. The most recent, she’s packing up to leave to university. Going back ten years, you’ll experience her life as an eight-year old, then as a teenager. Each snapshot in time represents a different season, shown through the beautiful view outside her bedroom window. But what’s most important is how our protagonist’s life changes over time.

There are key tasks to complete in order to progress through Simpler Times, but you don’t have to do them. Nothing is a prerequisite here, but it pays to complete as much as possible and to interact with as many items as you can pick up. Looking at certain objects will prompt our protagonist — Taina is her name, as you’ll discover by exploring her room — to speak some dialogue, maybe explaining the significance of whatever you’ve picked up, or some memory that’s tied to it.

Simpler Times diorama screenshot
Image: GameSpew

Simpler Times will appeal to you if you’re a fan of games like What Remains of Edith Finch and Gone Home, although it’s somewhat of a more passive experience in comparison. You see, you’ll get out of Simpler Times what you put in. Spending time poring over items in Taina’s room will give you a greater insight into her life — the ups and the downs, and the heartbreaks she’s had to deal with in her young life.

Completing the tasks given to you in each season is deeply satisfying, too. Open up Taina’s journal, either with the press of a button or by interacting with it in her bedroom, and you’ll find a list of activities to complete. As a child, it’s things like painting a picture and building a rocket. As she gets older, they get a little more complex: building a bird house, or finishing off an elegant diorama. Each one is a puzzle of sorts, some requiring a fair bit of brain work to figure out. They’re all varied, though, keeping your attention and keeping things interesting.

Simpler Times rocket building
Screenshot: GameSpew

We wish Simpler Times was a little longer with a little more depth. But what’s here is a lovely meander through a child’s life, with just enough engagement to hold our interest. We’d have liked to know more about Taina’s family, to see some memories play out, perhaps, to have a few more items to look at. We’ve still loved every moment with it, though, and if you’re a fan of narrative-driven experiences, we think you will too. It’s a valiant debut release from developer Stoneskil, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.

This review of Simpler Times has been facilitated with a code provided by the publisher. It’s available now on PC.

Simpler Times review - GameSpew's score

Simpler Times
8 10 0 1
A game for fans of Unpacking and Gone Home, Simpler Times is a short but sweet narrative experience that tells the story of a young girl through items in her bedroom. We'd have liked more, but for the two hours it lasted, it kept us hooked thanks to intriguing puzzles and a great (if sparse) narrative.
A game for fans of Unpacking and Gone Home, Simpler Times is a short but sweet narrative experience that tells the story of a young girl through items in her bedroom. We'd have liked more, but for the two hours it lasted, it kept us hooked thanks to intriguing puzzles and a great (if sparse) narrative.
8/10
Total Score

We like...

  • Looks beautiful
  • Great puzzles

We don't like...

  • A little too short
  • We'd have liked more to interact with

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