Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: Seasons After Fall

Seasons After Fall
Developer: Swing Swing Submarine
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

If I was asked what I thought was Seasons After Fall most defining attribute, I would say the games wonderful sense of serenity. From the beautiful art style, soothing orchestral music, and relaxed exploratory gameplay, Seasons After Fall is a game that wants you to stop and smell the roses. To sum up the games story is rather simple, its about a fox, nature, and a magic seed. You are the master of the four seasons and have the ability to instantly change your surroundings to any season you wish.

We don't even care whether or not we care. -Morla

Can't get out of the lake because its too deep? Change it to Winter and the water freezes and becomes solid. Need to reach higher ground? Plant a tree, feed it water, and watch it grow. It's these kinds of ideas and concepts of playing with seasons that make up the backbone of the gameplay element. Throw in some rather complicated puzzles, a bit of  frustrating platforming and little to no hand holding and you've got an interesting game. That isn't to say that the game is without fault but I feel the overall experience is very well defined.

You start the game collecting the fours seasons from their respected guardians, almost a tutorial of how all the mechanics work. Things don't get really all that interesting until you have all four and a ceremony goes wrong, terribly wrong. I won't spoil it for you. Now for me the story and gameplay is all well and good but what really drew me was the games calmness. There is no death in this game for instance. Closest thing is a quick fade to black and respawn if you fall down a pit in a very specific area of the game. Otherwise, you are free to explore the game at your own pace, in whatever order you choose. While there is a some well done voice acting/dialogue to guide you towards goals; most of the time these voices are vague and leave it you to decipher the goal. With the backdrop of the gorgeous art, music, and splashes of colors as you change the seasons, you find yourself almost in this Zen like state. I think I could just run through the forest, hopping around and I would be okay with that alone.

If you have an appreciation for art and its use in combination with music, then you should buy this game, as it does it very well. There is a game here though, and that is where things can get a bit muddled. Like I said there is no hand holding in this game. You are told very little by the games narrative and some of the puzzles are very abstract and can be confusing. I had to draw a diagram of one puzzle because I just couldn't figure it out to save my life. It took me a good hour and a half.
This is the Diagram. I wasn't joking.

Some people will love that about this game and others will be frustrated by the complete lack of guidance. I found myself somewhere in the middle. Another minor gripe came in the platforming, jumping doesn't feel very responsive and can be rather sluggish, which seems the opposite of a Fox.

Despite these minor hang ups, I enjoyed my time with Seasons After Fall. The game really jumps into high gear after you collect all the seasons, which thankfully doesn't take too long.
One thing that can be said about the game is that its a one trip journey. The game has very little replay value as once you figure out the puzzles, its done. Unless like me you really enjoy the scenery and smelling the roses as it were. There are minor bonus extras, from growing roses in secluded areas of the game but these are hardly worth going off the beaten path. Personally I wish this was developed a wee bit more.
So in a slew of indie games, I can say easily that Seasons After Fall is worth your time. The game has an incredible style of its own and some unique fun ideas. Just be patient and relax while playing for maximum enjoyment.

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