[Review] Ary and the Secret of Seasons – Nintendo Switch

Written by Joachim Ziebs
  • Developer: eXiin
  • Publisher: Modus Games
  • Release Date: 01/09/2020
  • Price: £34.99 / $39.99
  • Review code provided by: Modus Games

Introducing: Ary and the Secret of Seasons Switch Review

When you look at this game’s official website, you’ll find a nice list of accolades that it has already collected: Winner of “Best Unity Game” at Gamescom 2017; Nominee for “Rising Star” at Gamescom 2017; Finalist for “Indie Prize” at Casual Connect 2017; Nominee for “Best Quality of Art,” and Nominee for “Best Indie Game” at Game Connection 2017. This does make you expect something awesome. Something that will make your jaw drop. Something that will punch you out of the water. Something different from what you’ll actually get.

Let’s start at the beginning. In said beginning, you’ll observe Aryelle – or Ary, as she wants to be known – replaying one of Valdi’s greatest stories with her toys: the defeat of an evil magician by the Legendary Hero. The Hero imprisons the mage for all eternity, the Guardians of Seasons are installed to protect the four regions of the world, knowledge and jobs get passed down from father to son.

Somehow, however, evil lurks back into the world. Ary’s brother vanishes and is presumed dead, her father is overcome with grief and during this time of crisis, the Guardians are called to assemble. In a “night and fog” quest, Ary takes her father’s season crystal and follows the summons herself after cutting her hair and donning her brother’s clothes. In case this sounds somewhat familiar, Disney’s Mulan can be seen huffing angrily in the corner. To add insult to injury, the part of Valdi you start in has a very distinct Asian touch. But hey, taking inspiration from the greatest is fine, if you transform and execute your inspired vision perfectly.

Action, platforming, RPG!

So, let’s follow Ary on her quest against evil, shall we? You’ll run, jump and fight through Valdi in order to complete the main quest and additional side quests. The enemies you’ll fight are a nice challenge for your attack, dodge and parry skills. They’re varied enough to keep the game interesting. Boss fights can be a challenge, though, because your opponents have a long reach that’s sometimes longer than their weapon. But if you persevere and learn their patterns while keeping your distance, they can be overcome.

The way that RPG elements are woven into the gameplay adds further enjoyment. You can spend your hard-earned money (gained through rewards or exploring the environment) on cosmetics like clothes or wigs, as well as power-ups for your attack, agility etc. It’s easy to find the right setup for your playstyle.

Finding your way around Valdi is easy: There’s a map and a mini-map. You’ll get quest markers on them, making sure you run in the correct compass direction. It’s annoying, though, that you’ll get no mini-map support in any indoor places, including dungeons.

Speaking of dungeons, that’s where most of the platforming takes place. Ary will need to jump around and solve puzzles to find her way through. Here is where Ary And The Secret Of Seasons gets original: by using the season crystals, Ary is able to change the, well, season around her. This can activate switches or make platforms available that you would otherwise not be able to use. You can also freeze some enemies, including turning slimes into blocks that you can move around and jump upon. Combining the effects of the seasons and solving the puzzles is satisfying. Platforming, however, isn’t. Either the controls are imprecise, or the distances between objects are too irregular, but I’ve seen Ary fall down way more than I would have liked. Platforming is not actually pleasurable here.

Speaking of awards

Remember me listing the awards that Ary got? Well, some of them are unbelievable. The one for best quality of art, for example. Ary is not a bad-looking game – in fact, the anime aesthetics are very well done. However, Ary is not a good-looking game either. At least, not on Switch. I don’t know what the game looks like on other consoles, but on Switch it’s simply mediocre. Not particularly good, not particularly bad. Perfectly serviceable, though.

The music is no difference. It’s OK and varied enough to be fit for use. Let’s just say that it isn’t one of the remarkable features of the game, but it gets you into the mood and doesn’t annoy too much.

There are no critters in Valdi, but bugs in the game!

Apart from problems with platforming, Ary has graphical bugs that can both amuse you – like floating dead enemies or trees – and aggravate you. You see, exploring your surroundings is one of the things you’re supposed to do. Imagine my surprise when I was able to squeeze through a crack between buildings by jumping and finding a “room” behind them! Now imagine me finding out that I couldn’t get back, and having to load an earlier save file. Not nice!

Conclusion

Ary And The Secret Of Seasons aims for the stars. The idea of manipulating the seasons is a very original one, and makes you want to explore the world and see what you can discover this way. Unfortunately, the execution of the game leaves so much to be desired.

PROS

  • Manipulating the seasons is wonderful for puzzles & exploration

CONS

  • Graphics worse than advertised
  • Platforming is cumbersome
  • Bugs and glitches can make you lose progress
  • Bland NPCs

Verdict
At least on Switch, this game promises more than it can deliver. If you’re dying to get your hands on it, you might enjoy your voyage to Valdi. If not, wait till another travel destination becomes available.

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