Seasons After Fall is a 2D Puzzle Platformer by Swing Swing Submarine. You play as a magical being who possesses a wild fox to gain corporeal form. A narrator guides you through the first four levels, and at the end of each you gain control over one of the four seasons.
This is the primary mechanic of the game. You can change seasons with the push of a button, which will then alter the landscape and objects around you. Winter will freeze over lakes, allowing you to walk across. Fall makes winds blow, raising platforms. Spring makes the rains fall, and Summer makes the plants bloom. This only scratches the surface, as each of the four areas has numerous objects and puzzles that make you manipulate the seasons repeatedly.
Unlike most platformers, there’s no way to fall off the level and die. There are no enemies, either, so there’s no way to get a game over. Swing Swing Submarine wanted to create a game where you could explore a beautiful overworld at their own pace, and succeeded.
The gameplay is simple. You move with the control stick, jump with one button, bark with another, and use one of the triggers to change seasons. As terrible as I am at platformers, this one was much easier than even Mario. I had to retry only a few jumps several times, and even when I did I only lost a few seconds.
If you get stuck, you can usually figure out the puzzle you have trouble with by changing the seasons over and over until something changes. When you have to revisit areas (and you HAVE to revisit areas), you’ll remember how to get through each puzzle until you can activate shortcuts.
On the topic of backtracking: this game is similar to Skyward Sword in that you have to return to each area repeatedly: after your first cycle through the areas, you’ll have the ability to get further in each of them. This opens up a great nonlinear segment, but even though you can open shortcuts, there’s still a tedious amount of backtracking that could be much less of a grind with the inclusion of a run button.
There are also two endings, and while this normally makes me ecstatic, there’s only a “good end” and “best end”, and the amount of backtracking and searching for the criteria to unlock it isn’t exactly worth the payoff.
Presentation is where Seasons After Fall truly shines. The entire OST is played on a string quartet, which helps connect the player to the natural landscape and immerses them in the relaxed mood of the game. The art is beautiful, designed to look like a painting that you climb around and explore through the eyes of its subjects.
Each season brings a gorgeous palette swap to the area you’re in, and certain areas will react differently to different seasons. For example, Autumn is normally brown and earthy, but in the caverns it tints the background blue. That little extra mile makes the game even more beautiful. The only thing that could possibly make it any better was if the soundtrack changed slightly with each season, but that’s more a matter of my personal taste.
Seasons After Fall is one of the best-looking games I’ve played this year. The story, although I couldn’t discuss it without getting to spoilery, is beautiful as well. I could do an analysis of its themes and symbols that would make my Lit teacher proud, and that’s not something you can say about just any game. The puzzles and mechanics are interesting, and the platforming is easy enough for even the most casual of gamers to handle. The only real downfall is the tedium of backtracking, especially to unlock the true ending. The true ending was undeniably better, but the effort to unlock it was simply not worth it. However, the game is definitely worth playing
Final Score: 8/10
**SEASONS AFTER FALL WAS PROVIDED FOR REVIEW **