A new immersive video game that lets players experience the humdrum banality of living in a suburban Russian tower block is proving an unexpected hit, despite having no clear plot.

Created by game developer Alexander Ignatov and poet Ilia Mazo, It's Winter takes place in a nondescript neighbourhood of an unnamed town and limits players to the type of activities such an environment inspires.

A lack of in-game missions mean players can instead choose how they want to pass their time – from making a meal of eggs and potatoes, to taking out the bins.

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The game, which is available to download through Steam, is part of a multi-platform project that also includes a book, an album, a short film and a theatre production.

"Panel houses, snow, overcast sky, tiny kitchen, shabby staircase – It's Winter is an indie game [whose] genre could be classified as sandbox, post-soviet, sad 3D, Russian sadness," the game's description states.

"Nothing awaits you: There is no chance to get out, no room for adventures and breathtaking plot. Just a broken radio, refrigerator filled with food, loneliness and endless snow."

It's Winter has 'no room for adventures', just loneliness and endless snow (Ilia Mazo)

Such a bleak description has not been enough to put off gamers, who have flocked to the game since it launched last week.

On Steam it has already received 125 mostly positive reviews, with players praising the realistic gameplay.

One reviewer described it as "an embrace of gorgeous melancholy, felt in the bones like the chill of the cold."

Another wrote: "If you're familiar with post-Soviet types of cities, from eastern Europe/ Russia, this is a must buy. I've been far away from home for quite a while, and this game was capable of reminding me to not come back."

Some players have suggested It's Winter is pioneering a new genre of video games called "ambient games", which focus more on the atmosphere and mood than tasks and missions.

Not all players were happy to pay the $7.50 to download the game, with less favourable reviews describing it as "hollow", "technically horrible" and "conceptually miserable".

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