From the moment you first switch them on, certain games instantly make you feel warm and safe. They whisper comforting words – “Don’t worry, just sit back and enjoy”. Everything about the tone, soundtrack, visuals and story speak to the very bottom of your soul and makes everything in the world seem good again. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Seasons After Fall.
Seasons After Fall is a 2D platformer that enchants, entices and excites as you progress. You play the role of a plant seed that is lying deep underground. A mysterious voice commands you to rise through the earth and enter the world. Here you are in a place called The Sanctuary and you need to possess an animal to complete your quest. Luckily there’s a local heroic fox nearby who is the unwilling subject for your journey. You have to reach four sleeping guardians of this magical forest, so you can capture the power of the seasons before initiating a ritual to awaken the forest. You do this and then something goes seriously wrong…
The gameplay is simple but at times very complex. You start out by gaining simple commands like jump and bark, which sees certain objects unlocked. Then, as you progress through the game and visit the guardians, you gain new skills connected to the power of the seasons. The Winter skill lets you freeze water so that you can move across it, immobilising geysers so you can climb up to higher levels. The Autumn skill opens up the ability to allow feathers to blow in the wind, or open large mushrooms and leafy trees to allow further platforming progress. Spring brings rain and the ability to grow trees and plants, whilst the Summer season sees flowers in full bloom and the extension of vines so to allow you to bounce and climb your way to unexplored places. This all works superbly well, with easy commands and a simple but innovative way of selecting your skills, never feeling cumbersome.
The platform elements are very neatly designed and instinctive to play. The developers have played with puzzles and unusual level designs, so that you are jumping through the wind one moment, teleporting underground the next and then bounding through a nightmare world a second later. All the mechanics work brilliantly without any moment of doubt or annoyance. The puzzle elements can be confusing at certain times, but when you solve them there is a nice warm feeling of self-congratulation. There is also quite a bit of game to complete here, with a three act saga that twists and turns like the changing of the seasons themselves.
The great thing about the way Seasons After Fall plays is that the game feels effortless in its design. You glide along with the story and everything it tries to do simply works. It’s a game that can be played by little ones, played alongside a child, or even just played by a fully grown sad adult on his own, with just a dog to share his enjoyment of this game. There are moments of scratching your head and trying not to be tempted to look the answers up online, but it’s all solvable if you think hard enough.
Now, the way this game looks can be summed up in one simple word… stunning. There is an animated cartoon feel to the style of world that the game employs to great effect. The character designs, from the main fox you possess, to the mystical creature guardians you visit, are incredibly detailed and full of warmth. The world itself is straight out of a world-class Oscar winning animation film, with its lush landscapes, stunning backdrops and light shading. The one amazing trick it employs, which I never got bored of, is the ability to change season at the touch of a button. One moment it’s Fall with everything bathed in a golden light, and then an instant later it can be Winter with frozen water and mushrooms that were once flourishing, withered and closed. It’s an amazing bit of game design and I love how it expands as the game progresses.
In the audio department the game excels once again. The string soundtrack is one of the best I’ve ever heard in a game, subtly adding to the drama and hitting the right notes throughout the action. There’s some nice solid voice-over work by two actors who provide the voice of a mysterious narrator and the bear guardian, which have to be complimented.
To conclude, I would highly recommend giving Seasons After Fall a play, no matter whether you like platforming, puzzling or just foxes. The game has a beautiful world to explore with neat tricks up its sleeves, a lovely story and an amazing soundtrack. There is sometimes a bit too much backtracking to be had, especially when you get about two thirds in, and some puzzles do get quite hard, but overall this is a beautiful game that takes you on a magical journey whilst providing fun for all the family.