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Seasons After Fall

is a 2D puzzle-adventure game that will let you dive into a captivating universe and explore a land governed by magic and nature. read more

Seasons After Fall Review (PS4)

Author: Patrick Dodd
15-May-2017

Category: Review

While containing beautiful 2D puzzles and exploration, its lack of depth holds Seasons After Fall back. Swing Swing Submarine has created a beautiful and magical forest realm with a gorgeous soundtrack. But the lack of an engaging narrative and characters holds it back.

Seasons After Fall Review (PS4)

Introduction

Seasons after Fall is a 2D adventure, exploration, and puzzle game from Spring Spring Submarine. It came out for PC earlier this year and is now making its console debut. You play a spirit that controls a fox within an enchanted forest. You have the ability to control the four seasons and solve puzzles by switching between seasons. You also platform between large icicles, tree branches, and mushrooms, while exploring the forest. 

Seasons after Fall runs into the same problem as a lot of current indie exploration game. So much emphasis is put into creating a beautiful world to explore, that the developer forgets to make that world engaging or have a compelling story. The style and gameplay reminded me a lot of Ori and the Blind Forest, but Seasons after Fall didn't draw me in nearly as much as Ori and the Blind Forest did. Ori and the Blind Forest used the emotional hook of a dead parent to keep you immersed and motivated to continue on. Seasons after Fall lacks any hook or motivation for me to continue to explore this world.

Seasons after Fall is available for purchase at Steam.

Seasons After Fall Review (PS4)

Story

After a brief prologue as a glowing green orb bouncing around some tree roots, you emerge above around where a cheery female English narrator explains your situation. You are a Seed and you must recover the powers of the seasons from the guardians. The narrator explains that finding the power of the four seasons will allow her to complete the ritual of the seasons, which will break the curse in the forest. Your orb takes control of a fox that appears randomly and you're off to get those seasons.

If that doesn't sound like much, it's because it really isn't. The narrator begins to come off as unreliable after you find the first couple of seasons. The reasons to keep going start to diminish the more seasons you find. The guardians don't do anything to guard their seasons, strangely enough. They just appear in a cutscene and the powers appear and then follow you back to your hub. It would've worked a lot better if the guardians had put up with some sort of fight or challenge as a payoff for all the puzzles and platforming leading up to it.

Fortunately, the game doesn't end after finding the four seasons. I can't delve any deeper without entering into spoiler territory, but the story does get more engaging in its second half. It's just unfortunate that it takes that long. A guardian wakes up and becomes more involved in the story and the narrator's given some backstory to explain her motivations. But it's not enough to make up for the lack of immersion in the beginning.

Seasons After Fall Review (PS4)

Gameplay

The gameplay for Seasons after Fall largely consists of solving environmental puzzles allowing you to get from point A to point B. You switch between seasons to affect various obstacles in your path and alter them as needed. For instance, switching from winter to fall makes the large mushroom pods turn from dead to alive them. Then you can jump across them to reach a nearby ledge. You can use the spring season to raise and lower water levels to make areas accessible. Occasionally, you have to use some platforming to leap from platform to platform to reach the next area.

The puzzles are never very challenging. Most simply have you alter the season once or twice to change or remove an obstacle blocking your path. The highlight was an intricate puzzle, where you had to link fireflies in a certain order and had to vary the seasons as you linked them to match a specific pattern. That was a great puzzle that took me a while to figure out and I was really thrilled when I finally accomplished it. Sadly, puzzles like that are a rarity. Most of them are very simple and just require you to change the season then jump to a ledge. 

There are a few really frustrating problems with the gameplay. Firstly, Seasons after Fall is bad at telling you what to do, both with the story and the gameplay. There's very little direction. For instance, the first season you find is Winter. You need to switch to the Winter season to return to your hub. The narrator tells you to call (press square) for the Winter orb to help you. So I pressed square nothing happened. Pressed it again, nothing happened. It was only after some random button pressing that discovered you had to call twice near the Winter orb for it to change seasons. This lack of direction continued with the story itself. The game often told you what to do with no real sense of how to do it. For example, after the ritual of the seasons you need to resurrect these wind stones that are damaged. The guardian tells you it's really important to resurrect them. That's it.There's no real sense of where to go or what you're looking for. I was able to figure it out eventually, but it was really frustrating. 

The game also requires a lot of backtracking, which really pulls you out of the experience. No matter how beautiful you design forest areas, they can easily start to look the same. And without any sort of map or compass, I easily lost track of where exactly I was in this forest. And the beauty of the areas fade as your irritation grows. A lot of backtracking seemed unnecessary, since most games simply let you warp back to your hub after you complete an objective. Maybe redoing an area twice would have been fine, but by the third and fourth time, I was no longer immersed in the experience.

Finally, your character is never in any danger. In the early segments, the narrator hints that the areas ahead will be fraught with peril. Yet, they're not at all. It's impossible to die or be hurt. There's no fall damage, there's no enemies to encounter, there's no environmental dangers. Nothing. It wouldn't have been too difficult to create some thorns on the ground or have an ever present wolf threat that would require to complete areas faster. lost all sense of urgency to go forward by the midway point. The forests are largely empty, which isn't really explained. Without much of a story to follow and no real threat, it was hard to find reasons to keep playing.

Seasons After Fall Review (PS4)

Audio and Graphics

Seasons after Fall's greatest strength is its beautiful art design. All the areas are stunning and look hand drawn. The colors shine off the screen. Each of the seasons are gorgeous. Winter is a light blue and frigid, while Fall and Summer are bright with blooming flowers and trees. I thought Spring is the most beautiful with its dark green and constant rain. The Guardians look fantastic, like these unique large ancient animals that have always existed and will always exist. They tower over your character with varying degrees of malice. The fox is drawn really well with bright orange colors. My kids loved watching it jump around the screen.

The soundtrack is pleasant as background music. It's a simple string quartet that lightly varies on themes as you enter new areas. Its nice enough that you notice it as you're playing, but not so obtrusive that it overwhelms the gameplay or too quiet to hear.

I encountered zero technical issues as I played. The loading times are short, there was no framerate drop or anything like that. There were never any freezes or issues that made me restart the game.

Conclusion

Seasons after Fall is a beautiful game that fails to be engaging or immersive. While I was initially drawn in by the gorgeous backdrop and quiet score, the lack of overall narrative, character development, or real understanding of the world pulled me away from the experience. The puzzles aren't as challenging as I'd hoped, but the firefly section was really well done. The Guardians look fantastic and powerful, I just wish they were more involved in the game. The constant backtracking back to your hub takes away from the gorgeous world that Spring Spring Submarine have created.

Seasons after Fall could have been great. Because of its painted style, the forest world was really engaging. Some of the puzzles are really creative and the platforming is solid. It just lacks any sort of depth. There's the makings of a great indie game, but sadly Seasons of the Fall doesn't quite reach that standard.

PROSCONS
 + Beautiful World - No Direction
 + Nice Soundtrack - No Sense Of Urgency
 + A Few Clever Puzzles - Lots Of Backtracking


SCORE: 6.5/10

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