Normally in my opening paragraph I’ll try and insert some vaguely relatable gags or witty observations to showcase my skills and humour as a writer. But there won’t be anything like that here. This is the first truly selfless article I’ve ever written, and the first time one of my articles has taken a completely serious approach to a video game, simply because I want you to play this game. In fact, I need you to play this game, because though I don’t want to spoil this review for you … Seasons after Fall is just perfect.
Seasons after Fall is a beautiful 2D puzzle platformer from the small and French team at Swing Swing Submarine, releasing on consoles following an exclusivity on Steam. In this gorgeous hand painted adventure, you control a wild fox who has been summoned into a dense forest and possessed by ‘Little Seed’, a magical forest dwelling entity that has been tasked with mastering the powers of the 4 Guardians that rule within. Combining the Fox’s nimble attributes with the seed’s ability to manipulate the four seasons, you must hone your abilities and seemingly save the forest from an oncoming peril. Finding each of the four Guardians will reward you with the season they oversea, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, and only by using these powers effectively will you traverse the forest with ease and grace. The game’s puzzle element derives from travelling through the forest, as certain areas will only be accessible via the powers from a particular season or seasons. With delicious visuals, a sublime soundtrack and a deeply creative premise, Seasons after Fall certainly ticks all the boxes, and as much as I’d love you to read the rest of this article, I beg you to close this window and purchase it right now, as I fear even my immense praise and love for this title still doesn’t do it true justice.
Seasons after Fall’s concept is one I haven’t come across before, a game that gives you the ability to manipulate and call upon the seasons at will. Each of the four seasons drastically affect the forest landscape, and you’ll need to use your wits to figure out how to traverse the lush environment. The first season you unlock is Winter, and this will freeze water for you to walk on and create snowballs to jump on. The next is Fall (Autumn) and using this season will open up mushrooms to be used as platforms and blow wind to raise leaves as elevators. With Spring comes showers, so using this season will raise water geyser levels and raise the height of rivers, and finally you’ll unlock Summer, which will blossom particular flowers and light up dark areas. Now, upon unlocking these abilities and controlling the environment, I was already mystified by their impact and blown away by how the game works, so imagine by surprise and gratitude really at discovering that the game delves much deeper than this and requires you to think about these puzzles to another level. You stumble upon a water fountain and freezing it unfortunately still makes you short of the ledge, so how about melting it again, bringing forth Spring to make the fountain taller, then switch back to Winter and freeze the now bigger platform. And that’s just for starters. The world in which the game takes place in isn’t a terribly big one, with 4 major regions for exploration, however within each of those are sub locations, collectables and additional objectives that will help you achieve that perfect ending, so though small at first glance, each area is actually rich in detail and reason to sniff around; certain parts of each region will too be unreachable until you unlock further powers, meaning you’ll re-visit, re-discover and enjoy every area multiple times. Seasons after Fall may seem like a simple puzzle game in premise, however you soon realise that you’ve been duped in a way, that whilst being distracted by the staggering visuals and music, you are playing a greatly imaginative and somewhat challenging puzzle game, and it took my breath away.
I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it by now, but I ain’t gonna stop any time soon, visually Seasons after Fall is bloody beautiful. Everything in this game, the trees, the terrain, the creatures, have been wonderfully hand painted and make the entire adventure simply a wonder to behold. I give tremendous credit to the team at Swing Swing Submarine, as they’ve effectively created 4 games in one, as each location within the forest is vastly incomparable when switching between the 4 seasons. One minute you’re running through a winter wonderland, then at the drop of snowflake it’s the height of summer with lush, tall grass where thick white snow once stood; this is a game I could simply watch and walk through forever, with a smile that will never leave my face. Seasons after Fall compliments its breath-taking visuals with a beautiful and elegant soundtrack that never wanes from being absolute pure bliss. Much like a classic Studio Ghibli production, Season after Fall’s soundtrack plays just as an important role in the story’s illustration. From the delicate tones of the accompanying string quartet to the bounce and enthusiasm of the voice cast, every aspect of the game’s sound design has been perfectly executed. In all honesty, the music isn’t present all the time and for the most part you’ll be playing alongside the sounds of the forest around you. This by all means is no problem, however when the music does kick back in it does so in a rather abrupt manner which at times disturbs and wakes you up from this peaceful dream-like world.
In the 3 years I have been writing for Invision, I have never been this emotionally pulled into a game simply for its look and its sound. Swing Swing Submarine have created a beautiful world and within it they tell a simple, yet highly engrossing story of life and discovery. Though I’ve not gone into it, the game’s narrative is also strong, featuring a cast of mysterious entities with various intentions and secrets, meaning throughout your adventure you’ll be questioning exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Season after Fall’s gameplay is greatly innovative, creative and difficult enough that will please puzzle fans and avoid leaving a sour taste of defeat in the mouths of more casual players; the additional level of thought required to complete each location by combining powers and opening new areas is greatly impressive and commendable. Seasons after Fall is a staggering achievement and a product that I cannot recommend enough, nor can I find the words to really explain the sheer delight I felt throughout this entire playthrough. This is without a doubt one of the finest games I’ve played in recent years, and if you take my advice and pick this up too, you’ll very quickly and proudly agree.