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Feature: Bad internet and frozen eyelashes: making a horror game in the coldest city on Earth

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Yakutsk in Siberia is the coldest city on Earth. That’s not hyperbole. Yakutsk has the lowest winter temperatures of any city, anywhere — it has apparently never recorded temperatures above freezing from November 10 to the middle of March — which is why every article about it (including this one) will probably feature the phrase ‘coldest city on Earth’ in the title.

It is fortunate, then, that the stereotype tells us that nerds aren’t predisposed to going outside, because there’s currently a small group of indie developers busying themselves making a game in Yakutsk.

Grigory Everstov, the CEO of Cracked Heads, was keen to dispel all the stereotypes of their region of Siberia, the Sakha Republic: that in Sakha they ‘stumble on diamonds in the street’ (the Republic produces roughly a fifth of the world’s supply of the things); they all travel on reindeer sleds; their winter is endless; they all live in yurts. None of this is the case in real life, he assured me. Yakutsk is a regular small city, and they have very mild summers, reaching highs in the mid-30s. He does concede, however, that in winter it’s ‘Really very cold.’ The city is blanketed in a freezing fog and the citizens wrap themselves in fur and scarves, so that only their eyes are visible. Grigory told me to look up photos of Yakutian winter: ‘I think you will be impressed.’ I did, and I was. Cars drive alarmingly fast on icy roads, every house looks like a frosted gingerbread one, and eyelashes turn thick and white.

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