My partner and I have been together for almost seven years, and in that time we've played a lot of games together. One thing we've never done, though, is reunite a couple of woodland creatures with their parents, but now that we've played Casus Ludi's beautifully crafted indie Blanc, that's no longer the case. In Blanc, two players (either via local or online co-op) must work together to guide a little lost wolf and deer back home through some pretty challenging weather conditions.
During our playthrough, I took control of the deer - leaving my partner with the wolf. At first, we found fun in just running around in the snow, drawing patterns with our little feet, and occasionally crossing paths with one another. But then, we decided to take things a little more seriously when we realized that we'd have to use our individual strengths to help the lost creatures get back home.
Distance makes the heart grow fawn'der
When playing as the deer, you have height on your side. Not only can the deer jump up on higher surfaces than the wolf, but it can also become a stepping stone by bending down for the pup to bridge the gap between it and the next platform. The fawn is also slightly stronger than the wolf, allowing it to push objects with its head, which comes in handy when you need to open doors or move things out of the way. As for the wolf, this little guy has a talent for pulling things with its teeth and using its sharp canines to snap ropes that are keeping our tenderfoot duo from progressing through the level. It's also a lot smaller than the gangly fawn meaning it has no problem squeezing into small places that were otherwise unreachable.
Much to my delight, the deer and wolf aren't the only animals we meet along our journey. There are a few occasions where we come nose to nose with some other creatures - but I'll keep one of them a mystery to avoid spoiling the surprise. About an hour into our playthrough, we come across a family of ducks. There's a mother duck and three ducklings, who are all trying to make the perilous journey across the snowy landscape to their new home just as we are.
Immediately upon seeing the little birds, I turn to my partner and tell him that we have to help them - not at all knowing that's exactly what we're supposed to do. It takes a few minutes for us to work out how to help the ducklings, but we eventually figure out that they need us to protect them from the harsh winds to make it back to their mother, because of their small size. After a few attempts, we manage to escort the baby ducks to the other side of the narrow ledge and feel immensely proud of ourselves once we do. We eventually see the whole family tucked up safe and warm in their new home, which is reward enough for our efforts.
Running with the wolves
Working together through the trials and tribulations of herding ducks was made all the more easier thanks to Blanc's soothing soundtrack and gorgeous visuals. It's hard to not be charmed by the stunning monochrome world and peaceful music, especially when you've got two little critters acting out what could basically be a children's storybook right in front of you. It's not all baby ducks and snowflakes though, Blanc also has a number of sentimental moments which make your experience playing it even more memorable.
I just wish we were given more time with our little wolf and fawn friends. It's great having a game that you can sit down and play together in an evening - especially when it costs less than £15/$15 - but I couldn't help but feel a little bittersweet when finishing Blanc. It felt like it was over before it began. I would have loved to have spent more time with the pair and had the opportunity to solve more puzzles.
The fact that I wish the baby wolf and deer didn't get home so soon should show just how much I enjoyed playing this game. If you're looking for something to play with your partner over Valentine's Day (aka Blanc's release date - February 14), or with friends and family in the future, Casus Ludi's adventure is a great one to try. Blanc takes you on a memorable little journey that will encourage you to put your team work skills to the test as you try to find your way home.
Blanc is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch. If you're looking for some other hidden gems to play, take a look at our upcoming indie games list as well as our best co-op games list.