Seasons After Fall is a 2D platformer from indie studio Swing Swing Submarine with some fairly unique mechanics and a story somewhat rooted in Celtic mythology, revealed to the player in pieces as they travel through bucolic deserted landscapes. The game begins with you, a mystic-ish ball of light swimming upwards toward- something. A cheerful British voice calls you “Little Seed” and says some disparaging things about some old Guardians, and vaguely instructs you to visit them so you can get some things, for some reasons that the voice will explain later. The world, the Guardians, and whatever mystic forces are binding everything together are explained to you along the way and in-between missions- but never thoroughly.
The main mechanic for solving the platforming puzzles is only fully available to the player about a third of the way through the game, as you must collect various gifts from the guardians to unlock the different aspects. Essentially, you (the little ball of light, remember) take on the form of a fox and gain the power to change the seasons in order to get through, over, and around various obstacles. This is fairly cleverly done, and it is left up to you to discover what elements in the environment will respond to which seasons. The amount of exploration and trial-and-error left up to the player makes the game more challenging, although not impossibly difficult.
One big thing to note is that this is not a combat-centric game. In fact, there’s not combat at all. While there are HUGE Guardians to encounter, little bugs that you chase into puddles for various reasons, and weird waterfall-spewing birds, there are no enemy beings to fight. Every obstacle, even if it is set by a malicious force, is just another puzzle to be solved.
It’s safe to say, without spoiling one of the big twists, that you end up retreading the same environments again and again. Thankfully, the Guardians and the world respond and change based on your actions. With the additional abilities you gain along the way (and some well-placed shortcuts), this makes going back to the same “levels” far from boring.
The artwork is quite beautiful. The cutscenes look almost hand-painted in some mix between watercolor and impressionist styles. The levels are similar, although some elements, like the mushrooms and the few creatures you encounter have more detail. The soundtrack too is well-crafted, peaceful and perfectly blended to the Seasons After Fall world.
Seasons After Fall is a really fun, rather soothing experience that doesn’t get too wrapped up in its own mythology. It’s a great choice for anyone looking to relax (rather than ragequit). It’s also a great choice for anyone in search of good-looking game that’s slightly outside the standard platformer mechanics.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
We know what the fox says- but what does it MEAN?
Seasons After Fall is a wonderfully illustrated, fairly clever puzzle platformer that never fully explains its own mythology. Short and sweet, but don't expect this game to take up more than an afternoon or two.