eXcursions

Friday eXcursion: Seasons After Fall

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4K resolution! Hundreds of Hours of Gameplay! Explosive Multiplayer! The bigger, shinier, and longer a game is, the better. Or so we are lead to believe. In the attempt to capture the spectacular, we sometimes forget that it was probably simple, enchanting gameplay that first drew us into the world of gaming. Seasons After Fall attempts to do just this – tell a simple story accompanied by beautiful, stylized animation. The fact that it is a platformer allows the story and world itself to unfold while not being overwhelmed by overly complex mechanics.  Seasons doesn’t require a large time investment but at the same time it doesn’t leave you wanting for more, either. And let’s be honest – you won’t always keep track of time as you navigate the world, manipulating the seasons, engrossed by the music and artwork, which are paired so well.   

How the Fox move?

Seasons After the Fall is a platformer with all the genre staples. You will spend a lot of time jumping from obstacle to obstacle or solving mini-puzzles. The game doesn’t push the boundaries in terms of introducing radically new ideas, but that’s probably for the better. I believe it is meant to be a simple, yet focused experience, and the gameplay reflects this. That being said, it does have one very novel feature.

Season After the Fall’s central mechanic allows the player to literally change between seasons with the push of a button. For as often as this is required, I was glad that it was a near-instant change – if it had been a 3-second transition that would have killed any and all enjoyment. While it may seem simple to change from fall to summer, the process does require some thought. Take for example a lake that you can swim in but can’t jump out of during the warmer seasons. Change it to winter and you can happily run across the ice to your next objective. Or you may need to switch to spring to allow a geyser to shoot water into the air then switch to winter to freeze it, thus allowing you to create a step to get to a higher ledge. Altering the seasons is your biggest, and honestly only, real tool. You can also jump, of course, and bark to initiate environmental changes such as a vine growing to create a makeshift bridge. Neither are utilized very thoroughly, and it would be nice to have a little more depth to the mechanics overall. Towards the end of the game, there are a few puzzles that add variety, but at a certain point manipulating the seasons becomes familiar enough that I was left wishing there were a few more curveballs thrown in.

One thing the game could benefit from is some sort of a map or guide. It is usually easy to figure out where to go, but you could easily spend 10 minutes running the wrong way only to turn around and retrace your steps perhaps for a second or third time. I wanted to enjoy my time exploring without worrying that I wasn’t going to make some mistake that would require me to spend the next five minutes meandering back.

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Changing the season is always an enchanting experience

The entire idea behind the changing of the seasons is great for two reasons: it is simple to understand and it has almost limitless potential. It works well in the sense that the overall experience is tight and focused around the season shifting, but I do feel more could have been done. I think my biggest complaint was the lack of a ramp-up in terms of skills and obstacles. In many platformers I have played (I suppose the closest genre to what Seasons After Fall is) players are slowly introduced to new abilities, enemies, or techniques to master. If done right, it keeps the experience interesting by ensuring the game doesn’t stagnate. Unfortunately, Seasons After Fall is front-heavy and gives the player little to learn after they master switching seasons.

Art at its finest

There is no denying that Seasons’ overall appearance is one of its strong points. The way the environment changes between the seasons is breathtaking. Moving through the game world is a joy to behold, from traversing a frozen lake in winter to jumping through trees in fall. While the game features a limited number of characters, each of the animals fits in perfectly with the overall artistic design. The soundtrack is simple yet a great fit for a game in which you are a forest creature wandering through nature. It all meshess very well – this isn’t meant to be an epic adventure. Everything from the animation to the soundtrack works towards progressing its short, focused story.

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Don’t miss the jump or you’ll have to repeat the sequence

The breathtaking artwork is further enhanced by the environments being rendered in each of the four seasons (more on that in a moment). The distinct appearance for each season had me pausing more than once to say “I wonder what this would look like in spring.” Unfortunately, beautiful as the environments are, retracing old territory after a couple hours of gameplay was a little disheartening. It didn’t diminish the artistry, but it would have been nice to have more variety in the areas you see and experience. What was there was excellent – it just left me wanting a bit more and retracting old steps nearly the entire second half of the game took some of the steam out of my playthrough.

The Story

While I don’t want to spoil the story, it was a little hard to follow. You play the game as a “Seed,” a forest spirit of sorts (from what I can gather), helping a similar being as you seek out the four protectors of the forest. However, you will spend most of the game possessing the body of a fox, an (un)fortunate bystander at the beginning of the game. Your character has a clear motive, but I felt as if I had entered the game mid-story and sometimes had to fill in the blanks. I wish that the narrative had been developed more – as this beautiful world sometimes left me without a reason to explain the goals I was given.

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Saving the forest is a tough job, but a fox has to do it

This doesn’t mean that the game lacks narrative, but it seemed somewhat abstract. For anyone who has ever taken a film class or is a connoisseur of film in general, Seasons After Fall is more akin to a non-linear narrative such as Tree of Life than most games I have played. It is not completely non-linear, but it seems to me that the developers might have been more focused on the aesthetic experience of the game rather than its gameplay. I don’t say that to belittle the product or those who poured their heart and soul into it. What I am trying to communicate is that the product seems stretched between the lines of art and a game, not necessarily favoring one over the other. That is not exactly a bad thing; just expect it to play differently than, perhaps, the last platformer you picked up.

At the end of the day, Seasons After Fall did many things right and created a unique experience in a beautiful world. The developers’ focus and scope are clear throughout. While the core of the game is largely successful, I do feel that it could have done a little more. More diversity in levels, more puzzles that utilized the changing seasons, and a little more with the story. Still, it was a cohesive and a tight experience that would be enjoyable for anyone looking for a relaxing, slow-paced game in a dazzling world.  

TL;DR: Seasons After Fall immerses players in a breathtakingly beautiful adventure led by an adorable protagonist. The overall design of the game – whether that be mechanics, story, or the visuals – provides a fairly cohesive experience. While it presents great ideas, it does fall short by failing to develop any one specific element as deeply as I would have liked.

You might like this game if:

  • You’re looking for a relaxing game to experience more than master
  • You’re attracted to great animation and beautiful graphics in general
  • You’re looking for a simple, focused game

You might NOT like this game if:

  • You’re looking for a well-developed platformer
  • Having a purpose and fully fleshed-out narrative is important for you in single player games
  • You cannot stomach retracing levels you have already experienced

Kearon played for 10+ hours on a 3.5 GHz Intel i5 with 16gb ddr4 RAM using Windows 10 using The copy was provided to eXplorminate by the developers at no cost for review purposes.

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