Ahhh the 4 seasons… so beautiful, so majestic, so not something that I’ve ever experienced.
(lives in 365 day tropical climate).
Seasons After Fall is a stunningly beautiful platformer previously released for the PC via steam, and now for the PS4 and Xbox one. If I had to make a comparison for this game I’d say it has a mixture of Dust: An Elysian Tail, and Donkey Kong. Now I know that you’re probably wondering what I mean by that so allow me to clarify. Seasons After Fall has a beautiful color palette that I found to be similar to that of games like Dust. Please note I stated similar, not the same. I use dust as a reference point to help those that may have played games like it to have an idea of just how gorgeous this game is in motion, and in the same way I referenced Donkey Kong because of the similarities in its gameplay excluding enemies, this game doesn’t have those. SAF is at its core a gorgeous looking platformer with tight controls, soothing music, and a charming story to tell.
The game has not real villain or enemies to conquer, but it manages to create a sense of conquest by the use of its environmental puzzles. These can range from being very easy sections that require jumping over gaps to sections that will have you switching between seasons on the fly, while navigating your character through different locations. Your character is a fox who gains the ability to change each of the 4 seasons on the fly to help save a mysterious uninhabited forest. This season switching is managed quite easily by the right joystick, while movement is managed by the left joystick. Your character is also able to jump and bark, which tied together with the season switching mechanic allows for some complex puzzle platforming segments. That being said, I wouldn’t go so far as to call any of the puzzles in this game easy. Some will require a bit of time to look at everything on the screen, and think about a way to progress, but that’s about as difficult as they get. As for the season changing mechanic, it changes the look of the environment to match that of one of the 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. The changes are done instantaneously via visually appealing transitions; however, the changes are not just visual. They change the environment in ways that one would expect, like water into ice in winter, or growing plants in the spring. This allows for some pretty interesting puzzle platforming throughout the entire game.
The game’s music, SFX, and VO are also some of the aspects of the experience that have had a lot of attention. The experience is tranquil thanks to the music, and the eloquent voice overs. While playing the game I found the audio reminded me of the kind of audio one would find in a children’s audio book. Each word of dialog is carefully enunciated, and each musical note felt deliberate. It’s because these aspects that I consider Seasons After Fall to be one of the the most beautiful games I’ve ever played, and also why it pains me to state that this game has one fundamental flaw that almost breaks the experience completely, the performance.
The version of the game we used for the review was the PC version, a version that we’ve had for quite a few months. We had planned on reviewing the game sooner, but instead choose to wait a bit in hope that the developer would release a couple patches to fix it’s performance on the PC, but as of the writing of this review. The game is poorly optimized for the PC. We’ve tried playing the game with multiple Mid to High range configurations with very little results. This included the use of both AMD, Intel, and Nvidia configurations. No matter the config we used, the game seemed to run poorly. We even tried using different screen resolutions, and in-game graphical settings, but this had very little results. In the end the game was completed using a PC with an intel i7, 8GB of Ram, and Nvidia 1050Ti, at 1280X720 resolution. These settings got us close to 30 FPS with periodic loss in frames, and just as an example of how capable this setup is. It is able to run Mass Effect Andromeda, FIFA 17, Sniper Ghost Warriors 3, Tales of Zestiria, Mark of the Ninja, and Dust: An Elysian Tail between high to Ultra settings at 1080p 60FPS. Which is why I say that the PC version is poorly optimized. We have not tried the console versions as of the writing of this review, so we can neither confirm or deny if they suffer from the same issues, but I think it’s safe to bet that they do not.
I stated before that Seasons After Fall is one of the most beautiful games I have ever played, and I stand by that statement. The game is stunning in both a visual, and audible way, but it’s PC release suffers from poor optimization. This alone is the only strike against a game that could in theory be perfect if properly optimized to run properly on most PC hardware. If you’re considering getting it, I recommend looking into the console ports as they may run a lot better.
The copy of Seasons After Fall used for this review was supplied to us by it’s publisher Focus Home Interactive.