A Fold Apart Review

Published: Friday, April 17, 2020 - 06:00 | By: Alex Verdini
Release Date
April 17, 2020
Platforms
PC, Nintendo Switch, IOS
Monetization
One Time Purchase
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
Steam Humble Nintendo eShop
Folding Up All Your Emotions

A Fold Apart releases at a particularly difficult time. With a global pandemic underway, most of us are isolating in our homes. While many are fortunate to have family close by, some are without that luxury. Many lack the opportunity to see friends, family, and significant others. A Fold Apart deals with the difficulty of long-distance relationships and isolation while providing us a spark of optimism in these challenging times. Blending beautiful art and heartwarming narrative, A Fold Apart provides an emotional rollercoaster punctuated by increasingly complex puzzles to solve.

Folding to the Extreme

Folded up paper puzzle in A Fold Apart
Folds can work in many directions and include rotations for added difficulty

Playing A Fold Apart brings me back to a much calmer version of Tetris. While speed is not a factor in puzzle solving, it's crucial to think ahead and master precise movements. The goal of each level is to fold the paper level and get your character from one point to another. Initially, there are basic vertical and horizontal folds. The game mechanics become increasingly complex as more variations and methods of playing unfold before you.

 
 

Before long you’re rotating your paper, creating multiple folds, and folding corners of the pages on top of everything else. Making this even more difficult is your character's presence on-screen. You must be careful that they don’t end up crushed between level fragments, or worse, folded straight off the level. By the end, A Fold Apart sort of takes of the feeling of completing origami. Every seam, every fold, every rotation is important to reach the end of the level. Admittedly, traditional puzzle games aren't usually my jam, but I found these mechanics tactile and rewarding. The difficulty takes on a natural progression as you learn each new way of manipulating the level.

Trial, Error, Fold

A photo of the two protagonists in A Fold Apart
The two protagonists of A Fold Apart

There's no difficulty selection in A Fold Apart. Instead, the game offers a simple, steady progression that makes for a rewarding playthrough where you learn through each chapter. Each level rewards players willing to learn from trial and error. Mess up? No worries, you can restart the level at any time. Still, each new level begins like solving an equation. The most rewarding part of the gameplay is getting to treat each fold or movement like a chess move. Each fold can solve the next part of the puzzle or create issues requiring you to rethink your strategy for getting that star or walking further on your journey.

Platforming plays a unique role in A Fold Apart. Character movement is generally minimal. You climb over boxes, you maneuver your character from one side of the paper to the other, but it's the position of the character that adds a  unique aspect of platforming. Folding a paper in half can send your character flying off the level and force you to restart. Character placement is essential to avoid throwing them off, so you may have to toss your protagonists across parts of the level to complete a stage.

The Hastened Illusion

Inner dialogue between characters
The game ends quickly but leaves an impression that makes you want more.

Short isn’t a bad thing, but it did feel as if A Fold Apart was almost over before it began. I'm awful at puzzle games, but I was easily able to get through the game in just a few hours. This brevity made me feel forcibly rushed through the story to a conclusion. Narratively, A Fold Apart seemed to lack rising and falling tension. Our protagonists establish their issues in the beginning, quickly reach the major conflict, and reach a resolution. A Fold Apart offers a glimpse into difficulties of distant relationships, but since the story isn't given enough time to develop, it falls just a little short in roping you into each character's point of view. Our characters quickly turn from supportive to emotionally distraught before we understand their growing discontent.

A Fold Apart still tells an important story despite the shortcomings of feeling rushed. Likewise, user impact is something A Fold Apart seems lacking at certain moments. You are often presented with dialogue choices as you text back and forth between your significant other, but I never felt like any of my choices really mattered except for the ending. Each dialogue option seemed to present essentially the same option and would elicit the same responses no matter the choice. Admittedly, dialogue options seemed more like the illusion of choice rather than making a difference in your story.

Narratively Intertwined

Text-style dialogue between the two main protagonists
A Fold Apart emphasizes the misconceptions, guilt, and emotions surrounding a long-distance relationship

One element of A Fold Apart you shouldn't overlook is how well the story ties into the gameplay. As the characters struggle internally to deal with a long-distance relationship, beautiful music sweeps you into the moment. A simple art style explodes and ruptures the world around your character. Dramatic words pop and highlight on your screen with intense sound effects that draw you into this relationship between our two protagonists.

Each mechanic builds on the other to provide an immersive experience. The characters text back and forth, and you’re occasionally given a couple of dialogue options, but most of the narrative stems from the insecurities and internal thought process of each character. A Fold Apart weaves this emotional experience seamlessly into every nook of the gameplay and style.

A Fold Apart Review | Final Thoughts

From a gameplay standpoint alone, A Fold Apart presents a refreshingly-paced foldable puzzle game that's worth your time. For the more apprehensive, A Fold Apart progresses beautifully as harder and more difficult mechanics become layered over the course of your playthrough. Coupled with outstanding art and a touching story, A Fold Apart should be at the top of your wishlist to play and enjoy while shedding a couple of tears in the process.


TechRaptor reviewed A Fold Apart on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.

Review Summary

8.5
A Fold Apart is a stellar story-driven game with intuitive new mechanics and fun puzzles to solve.

Pros

  • Beautiful Art Enhances the Narrative
  • Emotional Storytelling Showcases the Difficulties of Long-Distance Relationships
  • Seamless Difficulty Curve

Cons

  • Offers Choices, but Some Choices Feel Meaningless
  • Narrative is Strong, But Feels Rushed

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A picture of staff writer Alex A. Verdini
Staff Writer

A gamer since his earliest memory, Alex enjoys practically every video game genre known to humankind (with a particular favoritism toward shooters and RPGs). He's been a long time Dungeons & Dragons player, and he has a fondness for board games and tabletop RPGs.