The older I get, the more I realize that the age-old notion of “life is short” becomes truer and truer. Instead of hours passing, I now watch as days and months pass, and years of my life are beginning to fly by. This is an unfortunate aspect of life that I think about all too often, even at 23 years old. But as a fan of the seasons and native to Ohio most of my life, I have always had an appreciation for the change the seasons bring, even if I live in dismay due to the time it sheds off from the year. Leaves and snow fall, then comes the rain and sunshine, like clockwork every year, even if global warming tries to have its way and delay or speed the process. That is nature though, ever moving and ever evolving, and that is exactly what Season After Fall represents. In Swing Swing Submarine's Seasons After Fall, you will follow a story that weaves the powers of destiny, choice, and greater good into a delightfully stress-free puzzle platformer. As a seed (a form of spirit), you possess a lone fox that has mistakenly made its way into a sacred forest. Guided by a shapeless voice, your journey begins, but to what end you will not know without said voice.
When first getting started with Seasons, many will be immediately pleased with how great the hand painted graphics look. It has an art style to kill for, one that pours color and life into every frame, and this is further represented by the games main call-to-action feature, which is the ability to instantly change which season the forest setting is currently in. With a quick flick of your right analog stick (assuming you are playing with a gamepad), you can bounce back and forth between Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, all of which have different color palettes as well as serving as a means to solve the games limited but diverse set of puzzles. They also serve as a mean of traversal, allowing you to progress throughout the various sections of the forests. It is a fun means of allowing a sense of magic to an otherwise nature based title. Winter freezes bodies of water, allowing you to cross frozen ponds, while Fall brings gusts of wind to otherwise dormant leaves, making a new platform for your fox to pounce on. Summer and Spring can bloom certain flora, allowing you to climb further up. All four seasons look great with their adaptive styles, bringing forward both different colors and sound structures. Leaves crunch in the Fall, while ice makes a distinctive *tink* sound, and of course Spring has calming rains. The forest is a beautiful place, and being able to see it change on command is an equally beautiful thing.
The aforementioned puzzles are a simple and standard affair, but they are a welcomed aspect of the title especially considering the titles slow intro. The first hour and a half or so is a slow start up, serving as a rather lengthy introduction to both the games story as well as its mechanics. The second half of Seasons is much more enjoyable. It fleshes out the seasonal changes as well as dives deeper into the fateful story. The narrative is not intensely engaging, but it is well told. The initial voice that guides you was not my favorite, but she does not stick around. The guardian of the forest, a well-spoken bear, is a much more enjoyable narrative guide who is introduced later on. With his wise words and a fitting voice, he brings much enlightenment to the overall narrative. But he is not much help for the titles puzzles, which are easily solved with a bit of searching, trial, and error. Though not too difficult, but they are varied, which is a strong suit to the overall experience. The care-free, stress-free attitude present is also a remarkable approach to the genre.
While other recent puzzle platformers like Inside feature deadly situations, Seasons After Fall is uncharacteristically stress free, which is a great thing. Even TurnOn, a game I praised for its charming appeal, had some pretty stressful segments. Seasons does not, not at all. It is pleasant in every way, featuring one hell of a cute fox, vibrant and calming colors, and an amazing soundtrack that features an immensely beautiful string based symphony. It is just easy to like, only featuring a few issues like some framerate slowdowns in addition to the previously mentioned dragged out intro.
Aside from the minor issues, Seasons After Fall is a very solid experience. It’s an easy one, and while not featuring much depth, does hold its own as a well-rounded experience. It is not the best in the genre that I have played, but certainly is one of the best sounding and looking, exhuming life in every scene and sound, with ambiance in excess. It is full of passion and life, with a story that has deep meanings about both of those topics. Seasons After Fall is a welcome addition to the genre, one that is bound to relax as opposed to stress out.
*Note: A copy was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 7.5/10
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