Seasons After Fall from Swing Swing Submarine, is a 2D platformer puzzler that lets you explore a beautiful world full of magic and nature. You control a Fox and are sent on a journey through the luscious forest to track down the Guardians of the seasons, you’ll need to gain control of the seasons in order to complete puzzles and to find out what is really going on in the forest and what this mysterious ritual is that must be performed.
It’s hard not to be drawn in by Seasons After Fall with its stunning hand-painted visuals and captivating score created by a string quartet. Everything is a joy to look at and each season has a very distinctive feel to it that offers a nice variety on visuals (and gameplay) as you easily switch on the fly. Remember the entire game has basically been painted four times – once for each season, it’s a very impressive achievement.
As I said, you play as a Fox who has been ‘possessed’ by a spirit of the forest. Guided by a mysterious being referred to as the seed, you’ll need to use the foxes agility to make your way through the forest in order to track down the Guardians of the seasons – who take on the form a four gigantic animals and harness their ability to control each season at will.
Initially I wasn’t really drawn in by the story, it all felt a bit vague and I wasn’t entirely sure why I was doing what was asked of me beyond – gain the powers and perform a ritual, needless to say it’s a slow burn to start with. But over time, it subtly and gradually started to grab my attention and it wasn’t really until the final few acts that it really had me engaged and invested in what was going on. The biggest problem for me though was that just as I felt like the story was reaching some kind of crescendo it would get bogged down by constantly having to retrace my steps just to get progress the next part.
Platforming is at the heart of Seasons After Fall, however it’s not the technically difficult platforming you might find in something like Ori and the Blind Forest, or the crushingly difficult Super Meat Boy. Seasons After Fall has a much more casual approach as you’re able to frolic around with relative ease as you aren’t hounded by enemies or facing sections of difficult precision jumping.
There are small jumping puzzles and sections, but nothing to painstaking and that’s a good thing because some of the controls for jumping feel a little off to me. There’s a slight lag when jumping which can, at times, make you easily miss time a jump and fall off an edge, meaning you have to retrace your steps to attempt it again. Thankfully, with the game not being so difficult I can forgive this, but if it were more challenging then I could see it becoming a real pain and very frustrating.
For the most part the puzzles in the game are fairly simple, there are a few more ‘complex’ or challenging ones later on in the game, but nothing that is really going to make you bang your head against a wall. In order to complete many of the puzzles you’ll have to switch between seasons, Autumn creates gusts of winds that can whip up leaves for you to jump on or grow mushrooms to form platforms. Spring brings the showers that fill lakes with water and grow trees. Summer brings plants to life allowing you to climb along them, and Winter brings the snow and frozen lakes and geysers allowing you to reach previously inaccessible areas.
But, throughout the whole game there’s too much back tracking and towards the end it becomes a little tiresome and really slows down the story. It just made the pacing of the game feel a bit off and sluggish in places, which then detaches you from the whole experience. There are no real way points in the game, only the odd audio queue to let you know you’re going the wrong way at times. Early on this is fine, because I don’t need to be told every single step I need to make, but the further you get and the more you have to retrace your steps the more frustrating it can become to get lost with no idea where you’re actually required to go. It just becomes a bit of a chore to get around at times.
At a little over 4 hours to complete, Seasons After Fall is a good game, but just shy’s away from being great. Its fantastic visuals, sound design and simplistic mechanics make it a joy to explore and easy to pick up and play, but that can’t save it from the backtracking, bumpy pacing and underwhelming ending that ultimately makes things feel a little drawn out. If you’re looking for something that’s casual, easy to get in to and not too long then Seasons After Fall would be a perfect fit. But, if you’re wanting something to provide you with a challenge or a more gripping story then this won’t scratch that itch.
For the completionist’s out there, there are a few collectibles in the form of four dreams that once collected give you the ‘real’ ending to the game.
Seasons After Fall is out now on Windows and coming to PS4 and Xbox One early 2017.