Jennifer
May 15, 2017
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Swing Swing Submarine
Review platform: Seasons After Fall was reviewed on Xbox One with a review code provided by the publisher
Release date: May 16, 2017
Seasons After Fall is a sidescrolling platformer that originally released for PC in 2016. Not having the opportunity to play it then, I’ve awaited an announcement indicating its console release. Its trailers instantly piqued my interest, showcasing beautiful graphics and a fun premise. Now after making its way to Xbox, I can say that Seasons After Fall is delightful, but it’s not without its faults.

In Seasons After Fall, the player controls a Seed, what appears to be a spirit-like entity visually reminiscent of the light Sein in Ori and the Blind Forest, albeit much larger. This Seed then possesses the body of a fox, coaxed by a voice off screen. At this point, you will need to travel through the forest to unlock the powers of the seasons by collecting a fragment from each Guardian.

The story is told through unseen voices who narrate the events and speak as if it were a children’s book. The voice acting is good, with one of the Guardian’s conveying an age-old wisdom and another voice depicting a playful child. There’s something very nostalgic about it that transfers you back to your childhood listening to a parent read a bedtime story.

The graphics are equally as charming as its voice acting. Seasons After Fall employs a captivating look, with brush strokes visible on screen like an artist reached into the television and hand-painted the environment. My only complaint, and perhaps this has less to do with the art style itself, is that there are a few moments where it is difficult to differentiate from possible platforms in the foreground and background of the screen. Complementing the artwork, the soundtrack is wonderful too.

The ability to change seasons at will is at the center of Seasons After Fall’s gameplay. With the entire forest waiting to be explored, you’ll need to utilize different seasons in order to progress. At some point, you may find yourself at the foot of a large cliff during winter, and it’s only when you switch to summer that you will be able to launch seeds at the ground and grow a tree with a pine cone, which you can then climb to reach new areas. This applies to all seasons, each with their own unique mechanics that help you solve puzzles. In the fall, mushrooms will bloom and create platforms. In the winter, ice will freeze over. Summer will cause branches to unfurl once the fox barks, allowing you to make previously impossible jumps. These are only some of the benefits available for a given season. Later in the game, you’ll even have the opportunity to control fireflies and floating trees. The change between each season is fluid and fast, making it easy to use.

Though the game doesn’t really require accurate or precision platforming to make it through, I found the responsiveness of the controls to be a tad underwhelming. When switching directions or turning, the fox takes a split second to respond to my controller input. It’s not lengthy or severe, but it’s noticeable enough to where it became frustrating at times when leaping between moving platforms.

It was easy to navigate the forest in the beginning, and if you were going in the wrong direction, the game must have assumed you were lost because a voice would then tell you the correct path to take. Once you’ve gathered all four fragments and need to activate the forest’s altars, you have more freedom to travel thanks to the fox’s new abilities, but you also lose this much needed guidance. I was unsure of what I needed to do first without any prompts or direction.

Even though the seasons change the environment around you, much of the game is still spent endlessly bounding across areas to get from one side of the map to another, with little getting in your way other than a few hills. The puzzles aren’t particularly impressive either and shouldn’t cause a lot of head-scratching. On the bright side, while you are traveling through the forest, you have plenty of time to appreciate the artwork.

If you are looking for a challenge, this may not be the game for you. You won’t encounter any malicious enemies, nor will you find yourself in any real peril. The fox cannot die. If you want a leisurely game where you can explore to your hearts content without worry, Seasons After Fall has you covered. The map isn’t huge so it doesn't feel intimidating.

Summary

Seasons After Fall provides a decent platforming experience elevated by great art direction and a cute little character in the form of a fox. There are a ton of platformers and puzzle games on the market, some even with foxes of their own, and though many surely have more rewarding gameplay, Season After Fall’s aesthetic makes it stand out. I would give this a pass if you are looking for a game that is difficult, but its appeal to others rests in its deliberately simple design.
Our score: 7.5/10

Good - A solid concept with wide appeal, good fun if you can look past the flaws.
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