8
Our overall verdict "silver"

There have been enough gorgeous smaller games on PS4 now to prove that a title doesn’t have to be big to be beautiful. We’ve had ours socks stunned off by the likes of Uncharted 4, The Witcher 3 and Horizon but our jaws have also dropped at smaller budget gems such as Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom, Flame in the Flood, Journey and Trine. Seasons After Fall is a hand-painted 2D puzzle platformer that radiates this same charm and beauty.

You begin your journey as a little seed. It’s not clear what you need to do or where you need to go but at this point your journey is very intuitive and there is a mysterious voice to guide you. Sounding like something out of a children’s fairy tale, this comforting and friendly voice is your lifeline over the next few hours.

Your task is to find the power of the seasons and bend them to your will. You must find the guardian of each season, return its power to the sanctuary and merge them all into yourself to harness their power. Helping your do this is a sweet little fox. By possessing him you can use his body to traverse the forest and use the magic you put into him to change the seasons. This is where all that lovely platforming comes in.

Seasons After Fall has beautifully solid platforming mechanics. You’ll rarely miss a jump even over the widest gaps. Playing with him put me in mind of the fox from Never Alone but with even tighter controls. But of course it’s not just snow and ice he’ll need to overcome. This little guy is a true all-rounder. Winter will allow him to cross water quickly and will freeze water spurts into platforms. Change to fall to open up mushroom type plants to make even more platforms, and use spring to raise water levels. The seasons do lots more besides but I won’t spoil any more of that for you. The whole forest is a puzzle and you need to work out how to get through it.

If you do happen to miss a jump and fall, it’s of no matter. There is no death in this forest. It’s a relaxing game and a wonderful stress buster. If anything it’s a little too easy at first. You’ll be guided in roughly the right direction and with only one or two seasons at your paws, puzzling out how to continue is very simple. Things do start to get a bit more complex as the game progresses and by the time you’ve harnessed all the seasons you have a much more satisfying puzzler to pass the time with.

As the game passes into its latter phases, your guiding hand is somewhat removed and you are left with a greater feeling of openness. Whereas navigating the earlier sections was relatively easy in terms of what direction to go, all that is yanked away and the game’s challenges crank up a notch. Now you’ll need to roam the forest in all directions to find what you need.

As we mentioned at the beginning, Seasons After Fall is beautiful. The hand drawn environments are gorgeous, backgrounds pretty and uncluttered and the animations cute and creative. The most impressive aspect is how everything changes according to the season you choose. The transitions are beyond smooth. If you can remember 2014’s Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams you can get an idea of how effective the transformations are. Everything changes: the colours, environmental objects, the backgrounds. Burned-orange autumn, cool white and blue winter, rain-soaked spring and bright green and yellow summer – one season glosses over the previous like an instant coat of living paint. The effect is inspiring.

Performance-wise, everything runs an absolute treat. With a game like this it has to. The framerate holds steady, the mechanics are spot on and really there’s not a lot more to say. When a game runs well, you don’t take any notice. No bugs, no crashes, no issues – just a perfectly made game.

Conclusion

Seasons After Fall is a beautiful hand drawn 2D puzzle platformer. Although gameplay can feel a touch simplistic at first, the tide soon turns and the latter parts of the game offer a decent challenge without losing its calm and peaceful persona. A sweet and charming little game.

S J Hollis Rating – 8/10

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S J Hollis

S J Hollis has been a keen gamer since the Atari 2600. She freely admits she thought E.T. was a good game but would like to stress her tastes have since dramatically improved. She is also an author, a morning person and thinks Elf ears are sexy. Follow her on twitter @SJHollis_