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For some unknown reason there has recently been a spate of indie platformers featuring fox-like creatures, be it the sadistic Rain World or the Studio Ghibli-esque Ori and the Blind Forest which we recently saw at E3 2017 will be followed by a sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Now Indie developer Swing Swing Submarine throws their hat into the ring with Seasons After Fall a game, which surprisingly enough also sees you controlling a possessed fox who must travel through the forest to locate the guardians of the forest and reunite the spirits of the four seasons.
Certainly a more gentle gaming experience than most gamers will be used to, here you’re faced with a game where it is in fact impossible to die. Still, starting as a luminous ball of light you’re given no instructions on what to do or where to go but as you rise upwards avoiding other identical balls of light with no idea of if you’re supposed to hit them or avoid them you eventually find yourself possessing the body of a fox which will serve as the unwilling host for the duration of your journey. The only guide we get at this point comes from the fantastical tinged narration which gives us a vague idea of where to go or what to do while also narrating the story as it unfolds.
Here in lies the first of your problems for the narration will often oversell situations as most notably found with the second forest guardian who represents the spirit of Winter and takes the form of a giant crane. In the lead-up to this encounter, we are told that he doesn’t like company as he does in fact suddenly show up knocking down the log we are travelling through making us grip the controller with the excitement of what is assumed would be some form of boss encounter. Sadly, what we get instead is essentially the animal kingdom version of a friendly chat as you’re given the spirit of winter and sent on your way again which honestly was kind of a deflated moment.
It should be worth noting that at this point your fox has no powers of attack despite, you know, being a predatory animal, but instead you slowly get to control the seasons to assist you in your journey as the environment changes depending on which season you’re using with winter giving you the power to create frozen pillars of water or switch the season to autumn to create platforms out of mushrooms which bloom under the conditions of the season. Summer meanwhile turns plant pods into little trampolines to bounce off while Spring enables you to use the rain to raise the water levels. There is certainly a charm to this mechanic and as the game goes on you will have to switch between seasons to further your journey which thankfully is as easy as a simple tap on the control stick.
This sense of simplicity carries through the game making you in many ways feel like your playing a game intended for a younger audience and perhaps filling you with the same sort of guilty pleasure you got when you played around on the pre-school colouring program you used to find bundled on demo discs. Ultimately though, you find yourself hitting the point where you stop questioning things and just let it wash over you like a therapeutic experience.
Strip away the fancy exterior though and what remains is a pretty standard metroidvania style platformer but without the threat of any kind of danger the game just feels like it’s lacking something. As such, the feeling that I could be getting the same experience playing Ori, and get that danger element, was a bit troubling.
Despite these flaws this is unquestionably a beautiful and engaging world to play though packed with interesting characters, which make it such an enjoyable experience to play though. The story at the same time is light-hearted and only adds to the fun, which can get you through the later sections. It all felt like a lot of busy work and seriously lacking in a much-needed map.
A truly original title that is worth discovering though best played in short bursts to avoid frustration caused by the general lack of challenge outside of the occasional testing puzzle. Still, for those getting into gaming or wanting something a little lighter, this makes for an enjoyable light romp.
Game description: Seasons After The Fall is an Indie platformer with a gorgeous hand drawn art style that has you harness the power of the seasons, but is this more than a mythical fox simulator?