FLOWERS ALMOST IN BLOOM
Seasons After Fall is a beautiful 2D puzzle-platformer where players’ heartstrings will be pulled throughout the game. The artstyle and score foster a gorgeous ballad, but the basic platforming and unrewarding exploration holds the game back from being an exceptional experience.
Developed by Swing Swing Submarine, Seasons After Fall, sets players as a newly created spirit that inhabits a fox to explore the forest for the spirits of the seasons. As the story grows and develops, the seasons become intertwined not only with players as the protagonist but in the mechanic of controlling the seasons themselves. Though the storyline isn’t difficult to follow, Seasons After Fall does an amicable job to provide meaning and reasoning behind the various events within the game. Though I didn’t find anything too shocking or revolutionary, I still found myself emotionally connecting with the motivations and concerns with several characters and ultimately empathized with some key moments towards the end. Creating compassion towards characters is a difficult thing to do, and Swing Swing Submarine nailed it for me with this game.
The score and visuals triumphed with this emotional connection. Each season that’s introduced conveys a powerful and distinct atmosphere. Winter, for example, has a purple, blue, and white aesthetic with a subdued melody. The simplicity and quietness of the score really personifies what winter is – a powerful effect that works with the other seasons as well. The environment looks like a beautifully crafted children’s book with the illustrations coming off the page. Having the fox running in the forest or scurrying through a cave is adorable to see; though it does get repetitive, it never gets unappealing.
Once you obtain all four season’s abilities through an almost snail’s-paced prologue, the world really opens up. Deriving elements from various Metroidvanias, Seasons After Fall blocks off several areas until you obtain a specific season’s ability. Winter can freeze lakes while spring can flood various locations, for example, and requires players to reexplore areas of the forest. Though I think the seasonal mechanic itself is diverse enough to separate Seasons After Fall from other games, the retreading of the areas gets so repetitive that it becomes stale and not intriguing. At several points within the game, I found myself just aimlessly running around to find a location I haven’t fully explored – transitioning between the seasons in hopes of stumbling onto an area that unlocks.
The platforming is a satisfactory element, but the inconsistency with jumping quickly makes it frustrating. Once you’re able to figure out how much of a delay jumping is, platforming gets a bit easier (though it’s silly that there’s such a lapse in timing). Similarly, the puzzles may provoke a few moments of thinking, but after a spin through the four seasons, can be solved quickly with no real excitement.
The silver lining of the aimless exploration and platforming within Seasons After Fall are some discoverable collectables. These collectibles allow your fox to nap and dream about events that transpired prior to the events of the game. Key details and motivations are revealed for characters that help explain why things are unraveling within the story and their specific motivations for their justifications. I’m surprised more of this isn’t streamlined for players to see – these mini-flashbacks are beautiful moments that I hope all players can experience.
The Verdict: 7.2 Out of 10
Seasons After Fall is an aesthetically intriguing adventure that portrays a deceptively somber story. Even with these powerful elements, the mechanics of the game – whether it be the unreliable platforming or uninteresting retreading of areas – are the weakest points. However, if you can get past these gameplay shortcomings, you can certainly enjoy the adventure and forest within Seasons.
This game was reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.