Seasons After Fall Impressions – A Game of Whimsy
The fox was too adorable for me to pass up.
[Disclosure: I was provided a review key to try out this game. My bias was already in favor of Seasons after Fall because the Fox protagonist is too adorable. Spoilers for the game’s story within.]
Seasons after Fall is a title that gave some unexpected surprises. The defining feature is the colorful and whimsical illustration style throughout the game. You play as a magical seed whose tasked with collecting the four season fragments from their forest guardians. Possessing the body of a fox, you venture forth to the four corners of this artsy world in order to fulfill this mission. Given to you by a mysterious young magical girl, who says she needs these fragments for…. reasons. She doesn’t really explain to you what she intends to use these powerful artifacts for, only that they’ll let her complete a ritual that’ll make life so much better for everyone.
The game introduces the mechanics as you explore the environment itself. It’s more of a platformer game than meets the eye at first. The screen gives a visual/audible prompt when something of interest is nearby, and using the e button activates the fox’s yip that causes parts of the area to change. They’re nature items: exploding mushrooms, vines that extend out like a bridge to let you pass over gaps, and vats that have wind shooting out of them (to name a few examples). As you gather the fragments of the seasons, these objects and instances gain an additional layer of complexity to them. Every season has it’s own weather climate and ability to change the environment, and that’s the core of what Seasons after Fall is about. Take the game’s water geysers for example. In winter, these plumes of water freeze and form a platform you can stand on. But in the Fall season, they only shoot a little water, while in the Spring season the water levels are much higher because of the rainy weather. It’s these puzzle-solving opportunities that let the game’s difficulty level ramp up at a consistent pace as you progress.
When talking about the story aspect of the game, there’s obviously going to be spoilers so read on at your own risk. As stated in the introduction, the magical seed possesses the fox to acquire the four season fragments for a ritual. These fragments are scattered about in different levels: a swamp, a pit, a mountain top, and a creek. We must seek out the four animal guardians living in each of these places and collect the season fragments they’re guarding. As you can imagine, the intentions of the young guardian girl we’re doing this for are not as wholesome as it may seem at first. The more fragments the fox collects, the Forest sanctuary hub world begins to grow sinister and evil looking. The four season Guardians we take the fragments from all appear to be in a state of hibernation against their own will. When we collect all four pieces, the young guardian girl tries to fuse them into the fox itself, killing the host. However, this rushed ritual works to our advantage. The magic seed that possessed the fox in the first place still has all four seasons at it’s disposal, and conveniently they take the form of a wicked cool ghost fox. The game does the cliche of reusing old levels again, but Seasons after Fall makes it work by opening up new sections of the game’s levels that we previously couldn’t reach. Our task is to undo the damages caused by the mischievous young Guardian girl and her antics, restoring order to the Forest and carrying out the proper ritual of the seasons. The game does a good job of fleshing out the main characters throughout the game’s plot.
The most important thing I should express here is that Seasons after Fall isn’t a Walking Simulator, despite the extensive depth and focus placed on the art style. It’s a platformer title that balances story and gameplay hand-in-hand, ramping up the difficulty at an even pace as the story behind everything becomes clear. The price of the game is fair given the amount of content available. I personally enjoyed Seasons after Fall because of the optimism and joy that was added to the simple things, like the visuals and audio. The fox is just so darn cute.