Song in the Smoke is a survival game. It is a simulation in which the player is alone in the wilderness with only his mind, strength and perception on his side fighting for another day. It is not just an expression of “man versus nature”, but rather an attempt to capture the timeless feeling of engaging with nature – paying attention to its frequencies, making thousands of small decisions that together make up life and death . It’s a game that tries to connect players to a form of existence that modern life has largely disconnected from.
A typical day in Song in the Smoke begins before dawn, when the light slowly peers through the misty air over the horizon. When I wake up from my sleep, I watch carefully as the last embers of my campfire crackle and make sure to ride it up to the sunlight.
As always, I have a lot to do today. The night will always be cold and dangerous, so the primary thing I am preparing for is this immutable reality. I actively start looking for firewood; I can only carry so much and have to think strategically. My campsite is a potential base for tonight so I’ll leave some of the trunks and branches that I’ve gathered there. But you never know where they’ll end up when it gets dark, so I’m sure I’ll have a lot of wood in my satchel too.
I am also constantly looking for raw materials of all kinds. In particular, I have to repair my club – it is a good, stable club, but the stone is about to break, so I keep an eye out for a suitable club to replace it with. I also run out of leather straps, which are a key to building reliable clothing and tools. In this case, fortunately I have some on the drying and tanning rack at my camp, otherwise I have no choice but to go hunting.
The other key to survival, of course, is food. Nature offers enough small snacks for a regular diet – berries and mushrooms make up a large part of my diet. But I need a large meal every day or two, and animal meat is my only option out here in the wild. I don’t go hunting that day as hunting and harvesting take up a good portion of my daylight hours. Today I want to travel light and break new ground, so I’ll bring some types of dried meat that I have saved.
I’ve also packed a number of arrows to protect myself from predators; my bow is neatly tuned and ready to use. There are many dangers out here, and even the best of plans can be uncovered by a lion waiting in ambush. I’m on the lookout for small stones that can be turned into arrowheads should I need more.
On my way north I explore the new room and peer into all its nooks and crannies with my head. I look for raw materials of all kinds, but also for statues and carvings of my ancestors that came before me. I can only place three bonfires per world; So I have to think carefully about their locations in order to cover the entire area during the day. Space mapping is therefore an essential part of life here in the wild.
I am constantly aware of the passage of time. As the light turns a warm red and the crickets and cicadas come to life, I realize that it is probably too late to venture forward; I want to make my campfire at dusk.
I return to my camp with a little time and feel comforted. I light my fire, making sure the heat and fuel level are maintained. I cook the food I gathered and caught that day as it is more nutritious that way. I am grateful for a full night’s sleep, a full stomach, and a warm fire to keep the darkness out.
Song in the Smoke’s PlayStation VR adventure hits PlayStation 4 tomorrow, October 7th.