Seasons after Fall is a beautiful hand-drawn adventure, developed by the five-man studio Swing Swing Submarine. It follows an enchanted fox with the power to change the seasons at will. Using these mystical powers the fox must traverse through the forest to uncover the truth behind the Guardians of the Seasons. Are they friends, or are the foes?
Seasons after Fall is a beautiful hand-drawn adventure that follows a “little seed”, visualised as an ethereal ball of light, in its quest to restore order to the seasons in the forest. Called to action by a mysterious female voice, the little seed possesses the body of a wild fox which ultimately becomes the players’ way of interacting with the stunning environment. The player is tasked with collecting a shard of each of the seasons to complete the ‘Ritual of Seasons’ an event that is said to be able to change a life.
The puzzles are simple in design but that’s not to say they’re easy. Players must use all four seasons (which can be changed at will) as an extension of their character to progress through each section of the game; thinking outside of the box to continue. In some areas, subtle clues are left to point you in the right direction to keep you from getting lost or confused.
Summer, Autumn (referred to as Fall), Winter and Spring all have varying effects on the surroundings. Certain plants will only grow during a particular season; for example, Mushrooms thrive during the Autumn while vines grow during the Summer. The Winter season can freeze lakes allowing the fox to cross large areas of water, while Spring rains can fill bodies of water. All of the seasons can be used in conjunction with one-another to move through the forest.
Plants that are only accessible during certain seasons can also be used to help the fox on his journey. For example, mushrooms act as an organic platform for the fox to jump on to reach higher areas during the Autumn. A strange, wide-mouth plant will spit out snow that the fox can climb on during the Winter; while during the Spring it can be used to water seeds that grow into large ferns, whose branches also act as platforms.
The changing of each season also yields vastly different visual styles. Autumn is a bright orange and has a sense of stillness about itl, while Winter is a dark blue with snow falling and an oppressive silence save the crunching of snow beneath the fox’s paws. Summer is bright with vibrant greens and is alive with the sound of nature.
Everything from the backdrops to the trees, to the fox itself, have a handpainted style which gives Seasons after Fall a unique look, each brush stroke can be seen which brings the game to life, making it feel as if it belongs on the pages of a fairytale. It’s a refreshing and underused style which shines brightly in an age where a majority of smaller studios feel more comfortable with retro, pixel art.
Seasons after Fall is a true testament to what a small team can accomplish. Not only is the gameplay well thought out, but the voice acting is on par with that of an AAA release and has the option to switch between French and English. The visual style is accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack recorded by a live string quartet; giving each area its own character which really brings the forest alive.
Players who enjoy a more relaxed pace will feel right at home with Seasons after Fall. With no immediate danger or time limits, players are free to tackle the game and its puzzles at their own leisure. Aside from the guardians, I’ve noticed only a few other creatures in the forest (this is explained from a story standpoint which I do not wish to spoil) that act as means to progress. None of which do any harm to the wild fox.
While the controls are simple on the keyboard, I found them to be a little cumbersome to use. I was happy to find that the game also supports the use of a gamepad which made the entire experience a lot more enjoyable. It works straight out of the box, so to speak, and is perfectly responsive. I’m hoping this foreshadows an eventual console release.
Seasons after Fall is a well-crafted masterpiece. Both the visuals and soundtrack alone are enough to entice most players to give it a go. While the idea of changing the seasons to solve puzzles is nothing new, Swing Swing Submarine has coupled this idea with an enchanting adventure of mystery and intrigue that draws players in and won’t let go. While it’s relaxed atmosphere may not appeal to everyone, it’s certainly worth trying.