by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Two out of five
Developers Swing Swing Submarine are best known for their difficult puzzling and platforming games such as Blocks That Matter and Tetrobot and Co. In a complete departure from that style, Seasons After Fall is a gently paced exploration game where you play as a wild fox. Itís designed to be more of an experience than a challenge - even its own developers only rate the difficulty at a two out of five.
Seasons After Fall is very much focused on exploration and the game looks wonderfully pretty while youíre doing it. It has a lovely hand drawn art style and the environments constantly change and adapt based on what the game wants you to do. This is because you are not just any fox, youíre a special fox - one that can control the seasons. Over the course of the game you will unlock access to all the seasons by visiting four spirits.
Freeze to continue
Your fox also has quite a powerful bark, allowing it to scare certain things away. You can use this to your advantage by spooking something into running along and making a platform for you, or you can make things explode with it to clear a path. When you factor in the changing seasons, these same objects will react in different ways. For example, most of the time a gushing geyser wonít be of much use to you, but in winter, itíll be frozen solid and will act as a new platform which you can traverse.
It is in fact almost a Metroidvania style game. Along the way youíll see things that you might not be able to interact with yet. Once you get the right tools for the job, youíll have an ďaha!Ē moment, and instantly figure out how you can change the season to best suit the situation. Iím sure youíll also be changing the seasons frequently just to see the beautiful wash across the screen as it changes the objects and colour palette to match the time of year.
Trial and error
Seasons after Fall is a 2.5D game, meaning you can be running along the foreground, but also jump onto platforms in the background. Most of the game revolves around you figuring out how to use each season to your advantage. There arenít any real penalties for failing, and youíll never become stuck. If you accidentally move something or blow something up that you actually needed, then itíll soon grow or come back again.
Itís a sort of generous trial and error process, where everything has a little interaction that might be worth seeing, but thereís only one way to progress forward. There are no limitations, cooldowns that only allow you to change seasons after a cooldown or anything like that. The developers just want you to enjoy the game. Thereís not even a HUD to get in your way.
It was a bit too loud to hear in the Gamescom booth, but we were promised an enchanting soundtrack performed by a string quartet. If exploring a mysterious forest across all four seasons sounds like itís up your alley, youíll be able to play Seasons After Fall when it comes out in 2016.