Where the hell is everyone? Probably indoors watching Squid Game in the warm instead of standing in the snow without a coat. Ludde looks the part; I’m just glad it doesn’t feel the part. It’s cold enough. Now, what am I supposed to do now that I’m here?

A cold chill was in the air, as was a strong whiff of a cheap cologne named Early Access. Without a welcome pack and a map with a ‘You are here’ in the shape of a dog’s face, I fumbled through my notes to check if this was the complete game.

Developed by Shellander GamesLudde is an open world – a sandbox, or snowbox promoting ‘do as you please’. I like the freedom, but I need someone to tell me where to go and what to do. Where is Kevin Mcleod and his infamous tunes? Sod walking anymore – I’m taking this snowmobile.

Every Christmas in the land of Eng, we want it to snow, then, when it finally does, everything comes to a standstill, and everyone complains about how cold it is and that they’ve had to cancel their plans. I choose sand over snow any day, but we’re here now. Aarghh!! There’s nothing to do, and pinching this snowmobile has cost me a coin. I’m off.

Ludde Game Review - A dog named Indy
A dog named Indy. Source: PR

After an awkward exchange with a penguin masquerading as a shopkeeper, I realise the cute dog in Ludde (is Ludde its name?) can sport a gun if it has enough pennies. Fast forward to that bit, I buy the gun and the first thing I do? Shoot the penguin. Nothing happens. I should walk this off.

Traversing this chilly rug made of snowflakes and indie dreams reveals hidden treasures. There are coins and collectable bones awarded for competing in games or digging up with a shovel – another thing you must purchase. Coins are everywhere, but stockpiling enough is a challenge until you take on fetch quests and mini-games.

Ludde isn’t packed with action that’s in your face. Instead, you have to find it, and after the slow start, this freedom to do as I please is good. The map only shows animal faces for those you’ve met, so slapping down some custom waypoints makes some sense out of a landscape that looks very similar: the biome, not the level design.

Once I’d explored the play area, it was time to pass the torch to my kid to try it. I hasten to add that Ludde played flawlessly on the Steam Deck. She liked it. Firing a dog out of a canon? That was a highlight. Donning skis to tear up the landscape and shooting some balloons out of the sky for more money were equally enjoyable. It’s all very chilled (forgive the pun) and innocent stuff.

Ludde Game Review - Andre Accuracy
Andre Accuracy. Source: PR

Then you stumble upon the timed mini-games, such as an ice hockey game, and realise how punishing some of these activities can be. The aiming and power of a shot weren’t ideal. My daughter bailed, as did I, with my tail between my legs. Still, let’s walk this off again, eh?

And that’s Ludde’s strength: exploration. This isn’t a big-budget game packed with gold-plated NPCs, folklore or pretty bows, but there is a lot of variety. If you don’t like an event, try something else. Aside from those aiming games, Ludde is a relaxing experience and doesn’t tie you down to one thing. 

Ludde appears barren and unfinished at first, though with a bit of time, it metamorphoses into a theme park where you have free reign to do as you please without any queues, and best of all, dogs are allowed.