Seasons After Fall is a 2D puzzle platformer, in which you have the ability to change the seasons to help you solve puzzles, and navigate the world. Is Seasons After Fall worth buying? Read our review below to find out…
Seasons After Fall’s console release has been widely anticipated, and its with great pleasure that I say the game was well worth the wait. Players are teleported into a charmingly stylistic, almost storybook-esque world where they take control of little wisp of light that is affectionately referred to as Little Seed by the narrator. With the enthusiastic narrator’s guidance during a short prologue sequence, the basics of controlling the wisp are laid out. The mechanics are intentionally uncomplicated, as Seasons After Fall has no combat or enemies to be interrupted by. Once you’ve got the controls down, the narrator then instructs you to navigate the wisp to a little fox that is in the area, merging the two together and giving players control of the little fox.
The narrator seems a bit despondent about the fox’s presence, vocalizing that she had hoped for something smarter like a wolf, but that they would have to work with what they had. She then shoos the seed and the fox, and thereby the player, off to begin their adventure. Something special is supposed to happen in the Sanctuary where the story begins, and it is up to us to retrieve the necessary fragments of the seasons from their respective guardians so that the ritual can take place.
As players collect the fragments of each season, they unlock the power to control that season and thus change the environment. While this may not be a genre breaking mechanic, it is very well executed. Players have a couple of options for which buttons they want to use to navigate between the seasons on the menu that appears around the little fox such as pulling the right trigger or pushing the right thumbstick in the direction of the season on the menu that you want to navigate. While the game generally promotes the right trigger method of switching seasons, I personally found it more intuitive to push the right stick. Pushing left on the thumbstick would switch to fall, which would cause the mushrooms in the scene to pop open and serve as additional platforms for reaching greater heights. Pushing right with activate winter, freezing any ponds or water fountains. Spring activates rains that can cause water geysers to swell, and summer allows for seeds to be planted that grow into plush trees, the branches of which become platforms.
Following the collection of all four fragments, a ritual in the Sanctuary with the narrator takes a dark turn. Players discover that things were not as they seemed, and with the help of the guardians of the seasons it is up to the little fox to set things right. The little fox is then able to revisit the previous areas where the fragments were collected, but now with the help of the seasons he can reach new points of interest, opening up a surprisingly expansive world for players to explore. Seasons After Fall approaches this exploration in an entirely casual and relaxing way, even though the events that unfold are anything but calm. There is no punishment for struggling with puzzles or platforming, no enemies, no death. The story allows all players to progress at their own pace, in their own way. Even the order at which the puzzles are solved are up to the player.
While the freedom to explore the world at your leisure is one of Season After Fall’s selling points, it is also its primary downfall. Its very easy to get turned around in the world, especially when you’re visiting and revisiting areas that look so similar. There’s no markers or guides to indicate where you’re going until you cross into the new section as a whole. This makes for a lot of play time lost in an effort to backtrack in order to track down a puzzle that can help you progress. It is possible to open up short cuts throughout the world but again the cut scenes that indicate you’ve done so are victim to the ambiguity of the world design. You can spend an awful lot of time trekking through the world looking for a familiar vine or mushroom.
When its all said and done, Seasons After Fall offers up an experience that will both bring a smile to your face and make your heart sink. Its a powerful story of patience and perseverance of life that will stay with you long after turn the game off.