Indie titles have brought about a resurgence of 3D platformers, making it a great time for fans of the genre. However, Ary and The Secret of Seasons fails to meet expectations despite the favorable state of the genre.
Ary and The Secret of Seasons appears to be inspired by A Hat In Time, with a similar style of gameplay. However, the game’s potential is overshadowed by a multitude of problems.
Ary and The Secret of Seasons
Developer: eXiin, Fishing Cactus
Publisher: Modus Games
Platforms: Windows PC (reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: September 1st, 2020
Although it has its imperfections, the narrative of Ary and The Secret of Seasons is intriguing enough to capture one’s interest initially. The game is predominantly a fantasy fairytale, and it commences with Ary reading a tale to her plush toy. The story recounts how an evil sorcerer plunged the world into turmoil, and how the Legendary Warrior thwarted his plans.
Ary is facing a similar predicament where red crystals are descending from the sky, causing chaos in the seasons. The Guardians of the Seasons have summoned a meeting, but Ary’s father, who is the Guardian of Winter, is mourning the loss of his son and apprentice, Flynn. Flynn has disappeared, and it is believed that he has passed away.
Ary’s attempts to disguise herself by cutting her hair and borrowing her brother’s clothes were unsuccessful due to her father’s refusal and her brother’s absence. However, she managed to obtain her father’s season orb and joined forces with the other guardians. Together, they embarked on a mission to recover the remaining orbs that had been stolen by a masked individual with the intention of resurrecting an evil mage who had been sealed away.
The story is quite campy and enjoyable for those who appreciate that style, which I happen to. However, without giving away any spoilers, the plot takes a sudden and unexpected turn towards the end. This results in more uncertainties than resolutions, and while it may be setting up for a sequel, it left me questioning the necessity of the game’s events.
Ary is the protagonist of a classic 3D action platformer that takes players on a thrilling journey through the magical world of Valdi. Armed with her sword and acrobatic skills, Ary battles her way through various challenges and obstacles. Throughout her adventure, she encounters a diverse range of characters, such as Prince Crocus, the Guardian of Summer Dagdann, and many more.
In terms of graphics, Ary and The Secret of Seasons is a mixed bag. While some aspects are impressive, others fall short. The animations of Ary herself are particularly noteworthy, with a great deal of attention paid to details such as her movements when interacting with levers or maintaining balance on unstable surfaces.
On the other hand, the non-playable characters lack depth and appear rigid. The synchronization of lip movements during spoken conversations is entirely inaccurate, and the majority of NPCs lack any idle animations except for occasional blinking. Ary stands out as an animated figure amidst a backdrop of lifeless objects.
The stage designs and scenery are imaginative, and the distinct visual style of each seasonal area ensures that it is easy to distinguish your location. While the non-playable characters may lack detail, the world design compensates for this with intricate ground clutter, textured walls, and ornate debris that contribute to a vibrant and dynamic environment.
Although enemies and bosses showcase impressive animations, a significant portion of the initial gameplay (particularly before obtaining the Spring and Autumn stones) involves conversing with non-playable characters.
The level design and pacing undergo a significant shift in the first half of the game. As you delve into the seasonal temples, the tediousness of delivery and fetch quests from the initial stages can be easily overlooked.
Similar to other adventure games, the initial tutorial phase of Ary introduces players to various mechanics, with limited combat at the beginning. The majority of the gameplay involves exploring Ary’s village, learning how to interact with objects, and eventually experimenting with the first season orb, Winter.
Although Ary and The Secret of Seasons was announced at Gamescom 2018, it is unclear what has happened in the two years since. Unfortunately, the game is plagued by frequent bugs and problems that detract from the overall quality of the gameplay.
Exploring Ary’s village reveals several persistent issues that players will encounter throughout the game. One such issue is Ary’s inconsistent momentum when traversing slopes, hills, and stairs. Additionally, her running speed significantly decreases on inclines, making jumping a faster alternative.
The climbing mechanic in the game seems unintentionally slow, making progress painfully sluggish. It can take up to a minute to traverse a wall of vines. Similarly, when swimming without the diving ability, Ary can only dog paddle on the surface, and jumping out of the water is not always possible. The game requires a specific camera angle to allow for a successful jump.
Regarding the camera, when using a mouse and keyboard, the sensitivity is notably low. Additionally, there is no in-game feature to increase the camera sensitivity, which compelled me to set my mouse to 7300 DPI while playing this game. Furthermore, the camera may behave erratically by shaking violently when utilizing certain abilities that generate terrain, as well as when opening specific chests.
The controls leave much to be desired, with imprecise platforming and inconsistent stage design that makes it unclear what objects can be interacted with and how.
At times, it is possible to stand on thin air as the gaps between the wooden beams of a roof still have collision. However, on other occasions, you may fall through the floor due to a missing brick on the bridge. These inconsistencies are, ironically, one of the most consistent aspects.
Although they are simple issues to adapt to, they contribute to the overall impression that Ary and The Secret of Seasons is a low-quality game.
Ary and The Secret of Seasons is facing significant obstacles, including some major bugs. However, it is important to mention that the developers are already working on addressing some of these issues, as previously reported.
Instead of waiting until the end of dungeons, I purchased the Pegasus Boots and wooden slingshot from a merchant. However, during my battle with the Winter Golem, its animation malfunctioned, causing it to walk around the arena and become invincible. Despite attempting to end my own life with fall damage, I was unable to progress and had to revert to a previous save.
Towards the conclusion of the game, I encountered a recurring problem of becoming invisible, which the developers have acknowledged. However, I managed to resolve this issue without having to restart the game or lose a life. By aiming downwards with the slingshot and firing a seasonal orb, I was able to rectify the problem.
The music and sound design may require some polishing. However, the composition of each song is exceptional. The final boss fight and the battle with the Winter Golem stand out with their impressive tracks.
The positive aspects of the composition and sounds used in the game are overshadowed by their poor implementation. For instance, when moving a piston for a puzzle, the game produces a jarring dragging squeak that seems to play for every pixel the piston is moved. This can be overwhelming to the ears.
The fight music for mobs lacks a proper fade-out, causing it to start and end abruptly. This can be particularly frustrating when attempting to concentrate on platforming while ignoring enemies. The first few notes of the fight music will repeatedly play, disrupting your focus until you either successfully navigate the puzzle or succumb to the annoyance of the unnecessary mushroom mobs and engage in combat.
In the end, Ary and The Secret of Seasons is a game that suffers from being rushed. Despite my initial enthusiasm for the genre, aesthetics, and voiced characters, I found myself disappointed. While it offers a lighthearted action platformer experience with a unique storyline, expansive world, and challenging bosses, it falls short due to its rushed development.
Despite its potential, Ary and The Secret of Seasons has been burdened by numerous issues, causing the game to falter. With additional time and effort dedicated to refining the game, it could have easily rivaled other successful indie titles. It’s unfortunate to see such a promising game fall short of its capabilities.
Although Ary and The Secret of Seasons has the potential to be a great game, it currently feels incomplete and may require several patches in the future to reach its full potential.
Modus Games provided a review copy of Ary and The Secret of Seasons, which was evaluated on a Windows PC. For more information on Niche Gamer’s review and ethics policy, please visit their website.