September 1, 2020
Within an hour of playing Ary and the Secret of Seasons, I thought I knew exactly what this game was going to be. Already rife with technical issues and ropey visuals, I was losing any interest in the world and its story. I judged Ary because it did indeed have problems, but once I’d been introduced to some of the refreshing mechanics, it became much more enjoyable. Ary is a lovable protagonist. She’s a young girl who has been told she’ll never be able to do the men’s work because she’s female. You see, the men get to wield powers and become warriors, but there’s no place for Ary. That is until she meets up with the Guardians, and a world of adventure awaits.
The weather of Valdi has been thrown into chaos, and it is up to Ary to save it. Along your journey, you will unlock new Seasonal powers, and each one can manipulate the environment in some way. Winter freezes water and created platforms to climb up, Summer melts the ice, Autumn provides you vines to climb up, and Spring will create water to swim across. They can also provide other assistance throughout the game that you may not realise, so experimenting with them becomes part of the fun. It’s by far the best feature of Ary and the Secret of Seasons, but after a while, the other issues begin to shadow the good in it.
Thankfully, the Seasons become a lot of fun when inside the various dungeons. You can use them to create bridges or open doors, always giving you ways to try and use them efficiently. Ary and the Secret of Seasons can be really smart at times, and it was during these moments that I felt I could be being too picky, however, when I saw the various pops in texture and glitches, I felt more at ease with my opinion.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons takes its cues from the likes of Breath of the Wild, although it is by no means as fun to explore or play. The open world feels more suited to the last generation of consoles, both in design and gameplay. It’s not the sharpest dresser, and the familiar attack patterns become dull, but the ability to use different Seasons to aid you in your journey make it more fun to play.
The majority of enemies you face are anthropomorphic hyenas, and to attack them you use your sword. You can dodge them and parry, but they’re almost always easy to defeat. You’ll also encounter some bosses along the way, and these can be pretty difficult to overcome, especially when the game doesn’t exactly make it clear what you need to do. The first big boss needed me to harness the power of Summer, but to do so took me a while to work out.
Valdi is a rather bland world to explore. It is only when you reach certain buildings, temples, or caves that the need to explore becomes enjoyable. You’ll also encounter different people to talk to along your way, like shopkeepers, and NPCs giving out side quests, and whilst not everyone has anything of interest to say, some can be rather charming. Exiin has done well for such a small team, and when you find an area with ways to use your Seasons, it becomes more than a simple platformer.
Screen tearing persisted quite a lot, especially when inside a building. When using the Seasons, I encountered various glitches that reversed what I was doing, and the framerate chugged quite a bit. When the game entered a cutscene, it would do so abruptly, making me think the game had crashed. These issues really hurt my enjoyment, and with the basic combat and world design, it may make some people give up early.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is fun for a while, but the technical issues really halt the enjoyment. Using different Seasons to change the gameplay is by far the standout feature, but even then the problems persist. I really wanted to like it. Ary is a sweet yet powerful protagonist, and the game’s message is a good one, but unfortunately there’s too much holding it back.
Ary is a great protagonist
Interesting Seasonal powers
Far too many bugs
Bland open world
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is fun for a while, but the technical issues really effect it, and stop you from having a great adventure.