The temperature is rising, the bugs are coming back out and the sun is getting brighter. Summer is one of my least favorite seasons, so I would be more than happy to pick up the ability to change seasons at will like I could in Seasons After Fall. Peaceful, gorgeous and clever as a fox, the 2016 season-changing puzzle adventure title from Swing Swing Submarine has branched out from PC to Xbox One and PS4.
And unlike summer, it’s something I can highly recommend!
Title: Seasons After Fall
Developer: Swing Swing Submarine
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by the Developer
Interface: DualShock4 Controller
Available on Steam, PS4, XBox One
Enter a world of mystery and adventure in this new atmospheric platformer by indie studio Swing Swing Submarine. Dive into Seasons After Fall‘s captivating universe and explore a land governed by magic and nature.
As a wild fox you are sent on a perilous journey aided only by your ability to change the seasons at will, manipulating a gorgeous 2D world backed by an enchanting live string quartet.
The argument over whether games are art has been around for ages, but no matter your stance on the topic, games like Seasons After Fall drip with so much beauty that “art” is one of the first words that comes to mind. The art is gorgeous, the animations are cute and the sound effects are top notch. Watching the cute little fox climb up the edge of a platform never gets old, and every change of seasons brought about a stunning new look at the environment. I’ll admit I climbed the trees a few times and flipped through all the seasons just to check out the view.
Each season is incredibly distinct and uniquely gorgeous. Fall (top-left), winter (top-right), spring (bottom-left) and summer (bottom-right).
Even more surprising than the gorgeous art was the way the music and sound effects worked. For the most part the music was nonexistent or barely noticeable which let the sound effects shine. Even sounds as simple as walking changed between walking on ice or walking on leafy fall grass, and my addiction to needless, unending jumping was even more enchanting when my landings sounded different based on the season. When music did come into play it was vibrant and inspiring. The string quartet was masterful and I felt like I was playing in a classical concert.
The game centers on a sanctuary, surrounded by four other main regions, each of which houses a seasonal guardian. Despite having such a limited playground, the four regions each change as the game progresses. As the game begins, you’re able to swap between only two elements by barking twice (the guardians can’t hear well!). As you meet each guardian, however, they impart the ability to change seasons to theirs at will. The controls for this are incredibly intuitive – you use the left stick to move and the right to change elements. The changing of seasons is the focal point of the game, but just how well it’s done is what makes the game fantastic. Winter freezes water so it can be walked across and turns waterspouts into platforms of varying heights while summer causes bouncy buds to bloom. Platforming puzzles often utilize multiple seasonal changes; as I mentioned, winter can freeze a waterspout. The rainy weather of spring causes water spouts to grow higher, whereas fall will make them shrink and summer makes them nearly nonexistent. This can make getting to new heights both interesting and fun!
I also really loved that, aside from the first bit of the game, it never felt like the game was holding my hand. This meant that I ended up feeling really smart as I played, and the way the game is structured it’s a natural progression to learn what wild things different seasons will do. That’s not to say there aren’t some tricky portions though, I ended up on YouTube a couple times to figure out what to do. The game also has 44 hidden flowerbeds that come to life as you run over them, and for every 11 that you find you’ll unlock some bonus artwork. Finally, each of the four regions has a hidden spot where you can sleep. Without spoiling anything, these spots reveal a great deal of the hidden plot and you can’t possibly know what’s going on without them. Going back after the game ended (yes, that’s something the game allows you to do) did get a little annoying at times as there’s no map or “return to the sanctuary” button (although there are different warp points in each area), so I ended up lost once or twice. As peaceful and lovely as the game was, though, it’s barely a complaint.
Speaking of the plot, this is one of those games where you’ll want to find others who finished it to discuss the game with. What begins as a weird, simple plot goes through a metamorphosis where I was driven as much by finding out what was really going on as I was by the puzzles. Only the most cold-hearted won’t be hit in the feels while they play, especially if you uncover the entirety of the story.
This is a game of wits, not brute paw force!
With tight controls, a simple mechanic that has endless twists and sound effects and music as lovely as the animation and art Seasons After Fall is simply fantastic. I was so hooked that it ended up being my first platinum trophy on PS4! As simple as the game was at first, I was amazed at how it blossomed into such a masterpiece! It’s no 50-hour open world RPG, but the 7 or 8 hours I spent with it were magical.