Season: A Letter to the Future

Originally revealed at the Game Awards in 2020, Season was set to be an incredibly gorgeous indie game that would have players photographing beautiful landscapes. The art style was a blend between Studio Ghibli and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and it looked incredible.

In the intervening years, however, something changed. At Sony’s June 2022 State of Play, we saw a new trailer for Season (now called Season: A Letter to the Future), but this time, things were noticeably less pretty.

Just compare the 2020 reveal trailer:

with the 2022 State of Play trailer:

The visual style remains mostly intact, but there’s been a noticeable downgrade in overall quality. Perhaps the most immediately recognizable change is that the colors, which were once astonishingly bright, are now more muted, or that the lighting effects seem to have been toned down. That blurred-background effect is subtler now, and the lines aren’t as crisp as they once were.

Back in 2020, Season looked absolutely gorgeous. The more recent trailer is not ugly by any means, but it does lack the “wow factor” of the original.

There’s a very obvious culprit: According to the original trailer, this was supposed to be a PS5 exclusive. It’s now coming to both PS4 and PS5 in fall of 2022.

Season: A Letter to the Future

Look, I know I recently enraged the gaming community by suggesting that the PS5 generation needs to decouple itself from the PS4. People were furious that I, a PS5 owner, would want to play PS5 games on my $500 gaming console. I know I’m probably kicking another hornet nest here, but I think the downgrade of Season‘s visuals is strong evidence that I was probably right.

This absolutely breaks my heart. Season had the potential to be a jaw-dropping indie hit, something that justified the buy-in for the next generation of gaming. Now, it seems like a decent little chill title, but one that’s less likely to knock our socks off with its sheer beauty.

That’s not to say the PS5 version won’t be superior to the PS4 version. In fact, a post on the PlayStation Blog explains how the game uses the PS5’s DualSense controller:

With the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, you will feel the terrain under your tires, thanks to the controller’s haptics. When you’re cycling, you feel resistance in the controller’s adaptive triggers when pedalling up steep hills, and then enjoy a relaxing coast downhill. You won’t have to stick to the main road: cycling off the beaten path will lead you to hidden places and new discoveries.

Clearly, this was designed to be played on the PS5, and the PS5 version does seem like it’s going to be the superior experience.

While I’m sure I’ll still enjoy Season when it comes out later this year, there’s always going to be a nagging sense in the back of my mind that reminds me of what we could have had without the compromises that the PS4 downgrade required.

Season: A Letter to the Future

The grass is always greener, they say, on the other side of the fence between console generations…

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