Another beautiful indie platformer
Seasons After Fall is an indie platformer developed by Swing Swing Submarine. It presents a loose, but engaging story structure in which your goal is to find the spirits of all four seasons. All of this is done as a fox, which you possess at the start of the game–you begin as a more spirit-like entity and need a vessel in order to complete your task. As you collect the spirits of the seasons, you gain access to those seasons’ powers. For example, once you retrieve the spirit of winter, you are able to transform the environment around you into an icy, snowy landscape.
What’s great about being able to change the seasons is that previously familiar atmospheres are made all new, complete with new secrets and challenges. Changing the season can give you access to tools that are hidden or closed off in a different season. Adjusting the season to Fall brings mushrooms to life and allows wind to flow through the landscape, while winter freezes over lakes and ponds and solidifies geysers to become platforms for reaching new heights. Knowing when to use what season becomes a skill in its own right, particularly when multiple seasons need to be utilized in the correct sequence to solve a puzzle. The more seasons you accrue, the more interesting the puzzles become, and the more layered a single stretch of the game can be.
The highest performing aspect of Seasons After Fall would definitely be its beautiful, sketch-like aesthetic. I was taken in by the vibrantly-rendered environments and adorable characters almost immediately. The music was also quite calming and tended to match the game environments seamlessly. This is something I think we’ve all come to expect from indie games more than their AAA counterparts. While I appreciate a beautifully-made game, I still tend to want more from an indie title than just cute creatures, nature-heavy settings, and a purchase-worthy soundtrack.
As it turns out, the cute factor in Seasons After Fall sets it up very nicely for an unexpected plot twist part way through the game. Without spoiling too much, the game relies on what you thought you knew and you could trust, and turns everything on its head. The use of traditional game mechanics and the trusting demeanor of players entering a game space help to make the twist all the more poignant. I was lured in by how calming and cutesy everything was at first, and was soon surprised to find a darker layer to Seasons After Fall.
As beautiful as Seasons After Fall is and as fun as some of the game features are to play with, there were times when the game mechanics were frustratingly difficult to use. For example, I often experienced a bit of lag between when I would press the space bar for my fox to jump and when the fox would actually do so. This could make it stupidly hard to navigate even the simplest of obstacles. A game’s difficulty should lie in the way it challenges a player to hone their skills and solve problems, not in how hard the most basic controls are to use.
I also experienced a more than a few glitches as I navigated the game that would require me to exit out of the program entirely and restart it. Luckily, the game auto saves pretty frequently, but it still served to take me out of the moment and disrupt the fluidity of the overall experience. It took me a lot longer than normal to get through the game because I was constantly frustrated by a glitch and would need to take a break before returning to play again.
On the whole, I would recommend Seasons After Fall to anyone looking for another pretty indie platformer. Seasons After Fall certainly holds its own (minus the glitches) against other favorites within the genre, but doesn’t do enough to truly surpass its counterparts. Still, it can be quite calming and engaging for a short period of time and is certainly worth the playthrough for anyone looking for a new platformer.