Seasons After Fall is hard to describe. What is it? Well, it’s a Metroidvania 2D platformer, for one. Of course, the genre is obvious, but what is it trying to do? I have no idea. While Seasons has a clear grasp of its mechanics and setting, it doesn't know what to do with them, like a kid in a candy store. This is immediately shown as Seasons literally just drops you right in the game, with no real explanation or warning while you try and fill in the blanks as you play.
You start as the “little seed”, a spirit or 'seedling' that can possess animals and can change the seasons - at least after a fashion. These upgrades come in the form of the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. The player can change the seasons at will to help solve puzzles. Raise the water in spring and swim across to the other side, freeze it in winter to slide across the bottom, you get the idea.
As the game is a Metroidvania platformer, the player will find themselves going back and forth across the game world in order to accomplish the end goal, which is to rescue all of the seasons’ guardians from their captivity.
All the traveling back and forth only serves to highlight the fact that Seasons After Fall is a beautiful game, as there were times that I had to stop and stare like a gaping tourist as I admired the view. Each scene has four different views to admire (on the account of the different seasons) so sometimes I literally just watched the seasons change instead of playing the season-changing puzzles.
The season-changing mechanic is something that works well, although this comes with a caveat: once you’ve seen it in action once, you’ve seen it all. It’s cool at first to watch plants grow and branches to spring to life, but after the dozenth time, I found myself not caring. This is a big problem as the largest issue that I have with the game is just that: it’s Ori without the story.
What do I mean by this? Well, I’m referring to the game Ori and the Blind Forest, a game that is quite similar to Seasons in a wide variety of ways. They are both beautiful looking platformers with good mechanics and a firm grasp of what makes a platformer interesting, so what differentiates the two? Interest.
While Seasons has all the ingredients, it isn’t interesting. Sure, the game is gorgeous, and sure the music is good enough to drive me to buy the soundtrack, but it didn’t captivate me like Ori did. The story, which was immediately made apparent in Ori’s first twenty minutes, is where Seasons stumbles, as it is full of telling and very little showing. There was a lot of “We have to accomplish this task!” directed to the player as they play through it, but throughout it all, I asked a simple question: Why? Why should I even care? Seasons never gives me a reason to care, and thus the game suffers for it.
Another thing that makes playing Seasons a chore is how incredibly inane the puzzles are. For most of them, you just have to pick the right season for the situation, and eventually the solution will be made obvious. However, there is a notable exception to this, regarding one puzzle that will remain unnamed. The massive difficulty spike from boring to frustrating was completely random and was in no way required. Even if it was, there should have had more difficult puzzles leading up to it – it really felt like the rug had been pulled out from underneath me.
I already mentioned how good the music is, but the downside to it is that it is barely there. Sure, the music is good while isolated, but in-game it’s quiet and to the side, as if its visibly standing nervously on the stage of a school play. It’s trying to say it's lined, but all that we the audience can hear is a soft whisper. In the cutscenes, it's fine, and maybe this general complaint is a little nitpicky, but for me, the music could have been more loud and dynamic.
The sound itself is ok. The jumping noise the fox makes is adequate, (although a little loud and grating) and the sounds that the game makes when one switches seasons is good. It’s nice to receive effective visual and audio feedback when you change seasons. For example, when you see the ice freeze over, you hear its rapid crackling as it frosts over and freezes. When a tree grows, you see it sprouting up and hear the groan as it literally forces itself from the earth.
Visually, this game is stunning. I mean, just look at the screenshots littered throughout this review. As mentioned previously, you can literally flip from screen to screen and take a screenshot of each one to use as a wallpaper, as it’s that pretty. Altogether, I really have nothing to critique about the visuals of this game - perhaps more playing areas could have been implemented, as there is a lot of traveling back and forth - but it's something that I wasn't really bothered with.
I'm really disappointed with this Seasons After Fall. I feel that with a few changes and a more compelling story this game could easily have been a classic. Overall, if you are a platformer enthusiast who likes jumping around and solving puzzles, you will probably enjoy this game. Just go into the game expecting great visuals and a soundtrack, and you will not be unduly disappointed. Still, the creators of this game Swing Swing Submarine are now firmly on my watch list in the future, as their next game could easily propel them to greatness.
Seasons After Fall was reviewed on PC (Affiliate) via Steam with a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
If you are a platformer enthusiast who likes jumping around and solving puzzles, you will probably enjoy this game. Just go into the game expecting great visuals and a soundtrack, and you will not be unduly disappointed.(Review Policy)
- Beautiful Graphics
- Great Soundtrack
- Dull Story
- Repetitive Puzzles