It’s not a secret that I enjoy a game that has a certain element of whimsy to it. After games like Ori and the Blind Forest and Unravel released, I find myself drawn to the unique platformers. When given the opportunity to review Seasons After Fall from developer Swing Swing Submarine, I got a little giddy. The art style of Seasons gave me a sense that I was going to go on a great adventure that would take me to magical places, and give me a purpose to complete the narrative.
I was half right.
Seasons After Fall is a 2D puzzle platformer that is set in a world of magic and sage-like creatures that will be a sight to behold for the first couple of hours. You start the story as a “seed”. You are guided by a very childlike voice to venture off and possess a local wildlife creature that ultimately has you entering a fox. Using your new, four-legged body, you set on an adventure to find four guardians to obtain a piece of each of the seasons that come in the form of an orb. When you eventually merge with them, you will be able to obtain that season and summon it on command. Using these new powers, it will allow you to traverse through the woods easier to find the next guardian, and so on.
Obstacles play the biggest role in Seasons After Fall as you have to experiment with changing the seasons to solve puzzles. One example is that there will be multiple times you will fall in water, but you won’t be able to hop onto a platform, but simply changing the season to winter freezes the water and allows you to walk on it so be able to reach said platform. The fall season allows for huge mushrooms to develop fully that will use as platforms to get to the other side. The spring season will give you the ability to make plants grow, and so on. These are a few basic uses, but there are more complex uses for these powers as the game goes on.
There is no real risk involved playing Seasons as there is no way to lose a life, or even get stuck in the world. The developers did an excellent job of making the game not as frustrating as it could have been. Having said that, there is not a huge challenge component to game. You can easily obtain the four season powers within a couple of hours, and the rest of Seasons is geared for more exploration as well as using the trial and error method.
There is no question that Seasons After Fall is a beautifully rendered game with equally lovely color palettes that change depending what season you invoke. From the blues/purples of winter to the orange/yellows of fall are a sight to be sure, and the developers should be commended for their art work. While the colors are a highlight, so are the game animations of the fox, and the other creatures you encounter along the way. The opening cut scene gave us a hand drawn, and hand painted look that I would have liked to see a bit more of, but with the vibrancy of the actual environments it probably wouldn’t have made a lot of sense to do so. Unfortunately, as I eluded to previously, that sense of awe goes away rather quickly.
The music in Seasons after Fall is another great addition to the already visually appealing title. The rustic sounds from composer Yann van der Cruyssen who emphasizes on the use violins and cellos that compliments the games surroundings. I could easily lose myself in the music being able to relate to the sounds that remind me of autumn and winter.
The unfortunate part about Seasons is that the look of the game is its selling point. For a large area that the game covers with its abundance of flora and fauna, the game is just too empty because of a plot point in the story. You get to meet a few random characters and listen to what they have to say, but there is not a lot in the way of other woodland creatures. You are mostly alone with the occasional off screen character talking to you towards the end. The gameplay tends to get repetitive as you will be switching between seasons just to pass the same obstacles in a different area. It really starts getting monotonous even with the inclusion of new game play features like being able to warp from one part of the map to the other, lining up streams of light in certain patterns to open entrances, and chasing small creatures into an area that aids in the changing of the plant life to help you get to high areas.
The story of Seasons After Fall, while a good idea, lacks any kind of dramatic moments, as I started to lose interest in it after the first couple of hours. It wasn’t the fault of the writing style per se, or even the voice direction; which I had no qualms about whatsoever. It was simply due to that there was not enough of it to keep me engaged. After the first couple of hours, the story and dialogue moments are few and far between, and just wished that it was more engaging.
Seasons After Fall looks, and sounds great on the surface, but underneath it all it amounts to a lot of repeating gameplay that some may find tiresome after a while. While I do recommend playing the game overall, just don’t go in expecting too much out of the story, and keep your attention on the detail of the art and music that are the games defining feature. While some of the puzzle solving can get a bit monotonous at times, there are moments that will make you feel a sense of accomplishment, but in the end, pretty scenery, and great music doesn’t make up for an uninteresting story along with repetitive gameplay.
*Disclaimer: A copy of Seasons After Fall was provided to Nerd Theory for review purposes.