Relax and play with seasons.
Puzzle platformers can offer many different styles of gameplay, from incredibly tense, twitchy platforming for the hardcore player, to the more relaxing, threat-free gaming for the more casual gamer. Swing Swing Submarine’s beautiful 2D puzzle adventure, Seasons After Fall, is certainly aimed at those wanting a more laid back experience.
Seasons After Fall has one of those storylines that is a little esoteric, a tale of a little seed that possesses a fox in order to bring together four fragments that will allow control over the seasons themselves. A lot of the story is left open to interpretation, leaving the player to focus more on what they need to do rather than why. But it’s a nice, calm story that matches perfectly with the gameplay, while not really getting in the way during this five or so hour adventure.
However, it really is the art style that stands out in Seasons After Fall. The beautiful hand-painted visuals will likely be the main selling point of the game, tapping into that desire to look at something pretty while playing a game. Set within a large forest, Seasons After Fall offers an amazing variety of stunning settings, expanded further with the changing seasons in the game. The main character of the fox, along with other creatures that the player will meet along the way, all look similarly impressive. In all, Seasons After Fall feels like a game that is a work of art first, and really is a joy for the eyes.
The artistic direction of the game is further enhanced by the mesmerizing soundtrack. Played out by string quartet, the music that plays throughout is quite beautiful, rising and falling with whatever is going on on-screen, while still complementing the relaxing pace of the game. The other sound effects and voice work in the game are equally well done, although there is a little bit of a balance problem that left me having to turn the volume up quite high to hear everything. This could have been an isolated issue with my own set up though, and it didn’t really affect the magical feel of the game.
As already mentioned, the gameplay is fairly laid back. The player gets to control a fox as they head out on their quest. The controls are simple, with basic movement, jump and bark being nearly all that the player has to contend with. The only other button that the player needs concern themselves with, is the one which can change the season. To begin with, simple platforming is the order of the day, but as the player meets the four guardians and gains the power of the seasons, they will then be able to change their environment and access new areas.
This changing of the seasons is the core mechanic in the game, and the majority of the puzzles will involve working out which season to get the effect required. For the most part, the puzzles in Seasons After Fall are not too tricky, although there are a few that may cause casual players to pause and think. There is quite a lot of backtracking in the game, but returning to previously visited areas and changing the season can give access to new areas, and there are some collectibles to find along the way.
The way that the season changing mechanic works is quite magical. Changing to Winter, for example, will allow the player to walk across frozen lakes, or use frozen water spouts as platforms. The different seasons have different effects on what is growing in the forest, such as the mushrooms which only sprout in the Autumn, further changing the areas that players can reach. It is all very cleverly done.
Seasons After Fall is not packed full of action or impossible puzzles. It is, however, simply stunning to look at and hear, and the relaxing play style is the perfect antidote to most modern games that are packed with tension. If you are looking for a calm puzzle platformer and want to experience all of the seasons in one incredibly well polished package, Seasons After Fall should be your first destination.