You can go anywhere these days and find puzzle platformers or metroidvania style games. In fact, in the past week, I've reviewed two of them. It's a popular genre that many developers have embraced and used to great effect, but at this point the market is saturated to the point where only the best ideas will rise to the top.
Enter Seasons After Fall, a new game in this same genre from Swing Swing Submarine. All it takes is one look to see how gorgeous this game is, but does it manage to stand out against a tidal wave of similar titles? Or, is this type of game simply out of season? Join us as we dive in and find out!
A Whimsical Story in a Beautiful World
Story in these types of games ranges from semi-present to nonexistent. Thankfully, Seasons After Fall does decide to chime in from time-to-time with a positively delightful narrator that sounds like she jumped out of a modern Disney film.
Her peppy voice and cheerful narration were always welcome as I meandered through the game's incredibly beautiful world. You begin Seasons After Fall as a seed, deep underground. You make your way through the opening level and when you emerge, the narrator informs you that you need to possess a body to complete your task of awakening the four guardians of the seasons.
A lone fox happens to be your only option, so you occupy its body and take control. Don't worry, the fox is fine. In fact, that fox gets to go on an adventure most animals (and people) would dream of, so it's a fair trade.
As you set about on your quest to gather power from the four guardians, this is just the first leg of your journey, but it takes a good amount of time to get all four powers. As you do this, the narrator chimes in every now and then to talk about her opinion of the guardians themselves, and even offer a little bit of backstory on them.
The game manages to touch upon some fairly profound topics, as is par for the course with these types of games, but it's all delivered with a smile and an undeniable charm that makes it a joy to experience.
Could it be deeper? Absolutely, and while I wish there was more story in general, the entire foundation and feel of the game is warm and cozy, and it oozes charm and innocence. A vast majority of these games are cold, dark, and even depressing.
Seasons After Fall succeeds in being something anyone, of any age, can enjoy, at least when it comes to to the wonderful story and setting. Let's find out how the gameplay fares.
Novel Powers, Familiar Puzzles
I almost wish the season would have come to you quicker in Seasons After Fall. I say that because the process of seeking out a guardian, while different in both sights and mechanics, always involves a trek back to the hub area.
This cycle of going out and backtracking to the central area starts to wear thin, and since you have to earn each season before you can switch to it, the game ends up using a lot of its ideas more than a few times.
For example, there's a puzzle involving a critter that can explode to remove obstacles. This same creature and puzzle pattern is used a lot, and there are plenty of other examples, such as switching to winter to cross bodies of water.
It's all really cool the first few times, but the space between new powers means that the first chunk of the game can get repetitive. Having more seasons to work with resulted in more puzzle variety, but I still saw a lot of ideas repeating themselves.
It's not to the point where I ever wanted to stop playing, but I couldn't see myself playing Seasons After Fall for hours on end. It was more a palette cleanser and a relaxing venture for me to dive into throughout my gaming hours.
While the puzzles can be simple, and the mechanics only offer so much variety, I still enjoyed my time with Seasons After Fall. It had a very relaxed and serene feel to it, and switching between seasons is a really neat mechanic.
The only real issue I had with the gameplay was the controls. There's a small, almost indiscernible delay when you press the jump button. It's enough to make me miss more than a few jumps during my time, resulting in a bit of backtracking so I could try again.
If the controls were just a little more precise, this wouldn't be an issue at all, but as it stands, this was a point of frustration for me.
Breathtaking Beauty and Positively Pristine Presentation
No one should or could fault Seasons After Fall for its presentation. This is hands-down one of the most beautiful games I've ever played. It has a wonderful art style that looks like a classic animated film with a touch of modern flourishes.
The colors are bright and vivid, the animation and motion of the fox and the world flows like water, and the music is a pitch-perfect symphony of strings and orchestral sounds that pair with the visuals like cheese with a fine wine.
While you end up doing it more as the game goes on, the transition between seasons is a treat for your eyes. The wash of colors and the changes in the environment are instantaneous. It's truly something that needs to be seen to be believed.
It's breathtaking to say the least. if Seasons After Fall was simply rated on its artistic value, I'd give it a 12/10. As it stands, we have to take everything into consideration.
The presentation is perfect, and the story, while delivered really well, is pretty surface level. The gameplay is simple as well, and some of the puzzle mechanics are overused. The aforementioned delay in the jumping controls can be bothersome as well.
Hardcore platformer and metroidvania enthusiasts may find Seasons After Fall to be a little simple for their tastes, but casual players and gamers of all ages can most certainly appreciate the artistic value and the unique mechanics that it does offer.
To use a modern cliche': "What does the fox say?" It says you should give this game a shot.
Final Score: 8.0/10
A copy of Seasons After Fall was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 5/17/17