Take control of the seasons and use them to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and discover the beautiful world of Valdi in this award-winning indie adventure.
Publisher: Modus Games, Maximum Games
Reviewed on: PS4 (Pro unit)
Also available for: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Cast: Cassandra Lee Morris, Christopher Zambelis, Ben Diskin, Kira Buckland, Anthony Sardinha, Laila Berzins, Anariris Quinones
Developer: Exiin, Fishing Cactus
Story & Script: Genese Davis
Programmers: Sebastien Le Touze, Wolf Van Herreweghe, Alix Hottelet, Laurens Moonens
Level & Game Designers: Sebastien Le Touze, Marcus Jonsson
In a tragic tale about coming out of the oven too soon, Ary and the Secret of Seasons features all the signs of a potential hit but is instead a mess of bugs, unfinished levels, and sloppy design.
You play as Ary who early in the game learns that her father has been called upon by the Guardians of Seasons in place of her missing brother. Her father is unable to attend as he’s lost in despair at the disappearance of Ary’s brother Flynn. So, Ary cuts her hair and heads off to take his place at the table and to find a way to stop whatever is happening to the realm of Valdi. All around Valdi the seasons are going amiss. Red crystals are dropping from the sky and causing the winter realm of Valdi to turn into a summer’s day and vice-verse for the four seasons that make up all of Valdi.
It’s some Disney-like fantasy stuff with the opening cinematic even featuring Ary reading a fantastical story of a Guardian protecting everyone from the villainous sorcerer. She dreams of being a hero like that, and she’s about to get her chance.
At the beginning of the Ary’s journey, you’ll have access to the winter crystal. This lets Ary call down winter domes which freeze everything within. This can then be used to traverse sections by freezing water, or opening doors that require the winter crystal. As the game progresses you’ll unlock the other three seasonal crystals and combine their powers to defeat enemies and solve dungeons.
You’ll venture across Valdi in the opening hours with wide, often empty areas with enemy creatures that you can simply run past and NPC characters that stand motionless in the exact same location all game. Moving through towns you’ll notice there is no life to anyone. When you reach a summer down that has been thrown into a winter tundra you can talk to NPC’s who are complaining about the cold all the while standing outside — and they’ll stay there all game.
In the first couple of hours with the game, you’ll be presented with what seems a ludicrous amount of side quests. From playing hide and seek with the kids in your home town, to collecting wigs in another, they seem to play an integral part of Ary and the Secret of Seasons. However, the side quests just dry up halfway through the game and the already empty overworld feels even more lifeless with fewer reasons to explore.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is at its best when you are exploring one of the several dungeons that make up the core narrative path. There are four main dungeons with a couple of miscellaneous ones along the way. It’s the core dungeon found in each biome of Valdi where the use of the seasons becomes engaging and the signs of a much more exciting game are on show.