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Closer the Distance preview: A tale of the connections we leave behind

Closer the Distance preview: A tale of the connections we leave behind

This narrative-driven story had me hooked from the start

It is a shame that we only ever really notice the connections between us following the death of a loved one. The realisation that it was their existence that held us together and now that they are gone, the threads that bind us are now on the brink of tearing and we must now learn to live alongside the absence of them.

That is the realisation I got after my experience with Closer the Distance, a narrative-rich, slice-of-life sim from Osmotic Studios. Set to release later this year, it tells the story of the town of Yesterby who must come to terms with the death of one of their own, Angela.

Players take on the role of a series of characters who are influenced by Angela herself as she tries to guide them as they each deal with her loss in their own ways. From her younger sister, Conny to her parents and the 13 overall inhabitants who live in Yesterby, the player will get to follow them all.

Closer the Distance /
Osmotic Studios

Osmotic Studios promised us a “deeply emotional story about the connections between family and friends in the face of tragedy” and that is definitely what was delivered in the first act of the game. With the story starting off with the news of Angela’s death, grief and melancholy follow the storyline and paints a bleak landscape over the small town.

With Yesterby being a somewhat isolated town which looks Scandinavian and consists of only a handful of residents, it is clear that the characters would have their stories intertwined from the very start. From Galya, the town’s doctor who lives with her wife and stepson to Henrietta, an eccentric British woman who is often seen smoking her pipe, each character has a unique story to tell.

It is evident from just the preview that players will be able to spend countless hours on Closer the Distance. Each character has jobs and tasks they need to complete, needs they need to fulfil and people they must interact with.

To help, each character has a status bar which shows their needs and wishes, relationships with other townspeople and also notes of any big events that have happened in their lives. When Angela decides to “influence” a certain character, you will gain the ability to control their lives in a very The Sims-like fashion - whether that is telling them to eat, visit a neighbour or visit the beach to sit by the campfire.

As a result, players are able to jump between the characters throughout the day and be able to see their current moods, their wishes and what they are up to in the days leading on from Angela’s death.

Closer the Distance /
Osmotic Studios

The close-knit community, although appearing harmonious on the outside, has strife lurking beneath and as you explore the town and its inhabitants more, you will make the links between certain characters to see who has history and who finds solace in one another.

The town itself reminded me of Midnight Mass, albeit without the angels and devils, with its small population, each with their own jobs, wants and secrets who come together following a tragic event. You feel the claustrophobia of Yesterby, especially as the layers are peeled back and it leaves you itching to find out more about these eccentric residents.

Gameplay is pretty straight forward as you switch between characters via their icons, peruse the town and click on various items to interact with. Conny, Angela’s younger sister who is still able to hear her voice, also has the ability to revisit memories and this is how we discover more about Angela as a character - from her mysterious illness to her mood the weeks leading up to her death.

The artstyle is also something to behold with the town of Yesterby looking like a painting with the winds tickling the nearby trees, the ramshackle houses each unique and telling their own stories and the character designs, which are simple yet effective.

It didn’t take me long to recognise each house and know the stories and connections between the people who lived under their roofs. To know that the widowed carpenter has a difficult relationship with his son, that the youngest resident struggles to deal with the grief surrounding him and that the town’s doctor feels responsible for everyone even if that means sacrificing her own needs.

Closer the Distance /
Osmotic Studios

The characters, each with their own personalities and stories, were the standout in Closer the Distance. I can’t wait to see how their paths will continue to intertwine, how strife will affect some relationships but hope will influence others. Although this is a story about grief, it is most importantly a story about the connections we form with one another and how easily they can break.

With the player’s choices affecting how the story will play out, no two playthroughs will be the same. Relationships will progress differently, tasks may or may not be completed and a character’s mood may be greatly affected by a decision you make. As a result, every player will have a unique experience.

Overall, Closer the Distance is a title that will bury itself under your skin and stay with you long after you have finished it and luckily, we don’t have long to wait.

Closer the Distance will be released later this year for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S and is now available to add to your wishlist. You won’t regret it.

Featured Image Credit: Osmotic Studios

Topics: Steam, PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Features, Preview