Seasons After Fall will make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world, one where the natural world is unaltered by human interference. There are rich, lush planes of forestry to observe as you glide past, immersing you as travel deeper into world. Plants move about on their own as if they are breathing, grass leaps in the air as you run through it. Branches and fungi serve a functional role too, being able to jump and climb on. Sometimes they are stumbling blocks, not straightforward, requiring the player to use their wits and abilities in order to unlock secrets of a deeply mystical world. There is a wider purpose to this, almost spiritual in a sense, for the protagonist that sometimes is hard to enjoy when you’re lost in the maze of branching paths and lack of guidance or overly conspicuous exposition.
The game makes a very positive first impression on the player with its unique and ethereal art style. Objects are delicately crafted and strike a balance between realistic and surreal, which lends to an otherworldly yet recognisable effect that entices the player to explore further. There’s a nice variation in scenery with a dazzling array of colours from different seasons with lighting effects that add to the beautifully ambiance of the game.
The animation works in tandem with this as the protagonist and other objects flow effortlessly across the screen in an embellished manner. Moving primarily on a horizontal plane from left to right or vice versa, it creates a rolling tapestry effect that is pleasant and relaxing to view. This alluring presentation is further enhanced by the atmospheric quality of the soundtrack and sound design with sound effects straight from nature that immerse you into this sweeping, mystical feeling.
This world feels ancient to the point that it’s almost prohibitive. Your character begins its adventures as a mystical “seed,” an orb of light with a spirit of its own. The player is guided by a childlike narrator and soon after possessing a fox, proceeds through various areas solving puzzles in order to collect powers that change seasons, turning the world into a Winter wonderland or an auburn Autumn. This alters the terrain from a platforming perspective. As certain flora and geographical forces are at play at different seasons, it allows the player to use these changes to traverse across the game. Certain fungi will absorb water like a sponge in Springtime, leading to new paths discovered while in Winter, certain plants can fire huge boulders of snow that you can use to you advantage. It’s an clever way to counteract any sense of tedium that might have occurred otherwise when backtracking through various portions of the game, as this dynamic gameplay mechanic allows revisited areas to feel different again when played through again. Backtracking is also not much of a problem when the graphics and sound are as tremendous and atmospheric, providing a profound sense of immersion.
These frequented areas also begin to diverge into new areas as the game starts to unfold even further. The natural order of this world is strangely familiar at first, albeit unclear, but gradually we garner a deeper understanding as the forest begins to come alive. Dialogue from characters is the primary way of learning the story and lore and it’s done effectively, being well-written and having a strong, idiosyncratic delivery from key characters. The puzzle platforming is the core element of this game and also becomes more complex which can be problematic given this game’s lack of direction. With no map to guide you, it can be hard to find the right place you’re told to go. For a significant amount of my playthrough, I felt like I was on the right track but never certain where I was exactly supposed to go. It’s like an extra layer of difficulty of solving puzzles that doesn’t come with the satisfaction when you finally succeed but rather a lamentation for crude game design as you trample backwards and forward. Luckily it’s only once or twice it might happen during gameplay and the puzzles itself that come afterwards make clever use of the game mechanics.
The puzzles themselves make great use of the season-changing mechanics and platforming and often you might have to smartly combine more than one in order to get past an obstacle blocking your path. There was a good natural pacing to them as well. Introductory puzzles that made use of a chain of fireflies or a teleporter of sorts were later used in a more elaborate manner for key puzzles that set a good gradual pacing for the game. The backtracking also did not overextend itself when travelling back and forth when solving puzzles and the clues to how to solve them were never obfuscated.
The game has also taken a more natural approach to the controls. The control scheme is very simple, with just some movement buttons and the season-changing mechanics, it does not allow this to get in the way of the gameplay. Your fox friend moves about in little leaps and there’s some natural sense of delay, friction or varying momentum to how you turn, jump and run. There was one puzzle with the fireflies and jumping on platforms was a bit annoying as it required more vertical leaps that are more cumbersome to use. As well as that, the jumps feel a little too longs sometimes and feels like you have to get the timing just right.
Despite these nit-pickings, this game still manages to engage the player in unique and enjoyable ways. Moving about the map searching for my next objective trained brain neurons that weren’t used to working so hard to retain visual memory from a game world without the aid of a map or direction. And the experience overall definitely is worth the hard slog through hard puzzles or getting lost in a maze of beautifully rendered scenes of nature. A gorgeous presentation with visual style and ambiance combined with the puzzle platforming gameplay makes this game one that became instantly memorable with mythological themes that elevates the place of nature in our world. Seasons of the Fall inspires the player with nature in the same way it inspired our ancestors thousands of years ago. It situates the forest and animals on the realm of some sort cosmic, otherworldly power.