Ary and the Secret of Seasons comes off as an adventure game that has gotten me rather impressed but and the same time feeling rather unimpressed – at least for the particular build that I have played.
Nonetheless, I am feeling fortunate to have been given the opportunity to try out the preview build of the game thanks to the publisher, Modus Games.
Spending time with the game at least even in the earlier stages, from a visual and general feeling the premise of the game seemed to have taken some inspiration from Disney’s Mulan. You play as Aryelle or Ary for short as the game starts out with her family still mourning the disappearance of her brother.
However, after a minor encounter with two hyena enemies which she bravely defeated, one of them dropped her brother’s wooden sword. This prompted Ary to believe that her brother is still alive. Thus this is where begins the journey of Ary in search of her brother.
Whats in the preview build
The preview build features two playable levels. One is where i start off from a new game perspective while the other had me starting at a much later level of the game. The latter features Ary being more decked out with a proper sword and expanded health bar as well as access to more elemental powers.
The New Game level starts off Ary from her room and allows for some exploration around town as well showcasing the basic tutorials of the game controls and mechanics. Both levels allows you to have access 3 out of the 4 elemental powers which you will utilize for puzzle solving as well as accessing other hidden areas throughout the game.
The controls in this game is quite generic to say the least. It covers all the basics of any proper adventure game that many of us would’ve played. What I wish to highlight is how it feels. The controls in this game can feel rather flimsy. The attacks in this game does not give out a good feedback when hitting an enemy. The roll button can often times lead to the usual 3rd person camera issue whenever you are near a wall. The jumping motion can feel off and can sway your timing especially when you are jumping from one platform to the other.
Coming into the battle mechanics, everything here is very standard in its execution. However, the game’s Parry mechanics is quite hit and miss. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and I do not know either if it’s really a bug or I am missing something that requires me to use it.
Menu usage nightmares
Another part I find that is super clumsy and cumbersome is how it handles its user interface and the access of the menu. The game features an inventory system which gives you access to various weapons, items and customizable vanity items.
How it is accessed is what i am annoyed at. Pressing the ESC button brings out the selection menu. This is where you can access to your Inventory which is also tucked in with the Save and Load selections as well as exiting the game itself.
To me, it feels very messy and unorganized to have to access my inventory this way when the game itself features a number of consumables and customizable equipment for Ary.
Good graphics, Buggy visuals, unnecessary animations
While unpolished gameplay and obvious bug are to be expected from this preview build. Modus Games themselves have been very honest by informing us about the state of this build. The game often times will have texture pop ins or in worse cases, certain assets and textures not appearing properly. The lighting in this game is almost nonexistent and some weather effects looks very low res and artificial. There are also certain parts in the game where the textures look very flat and dated.
Another thing I find perplexing is how the game has some unnecessary animations such as having Ary constantly do an animation acknowledgement every time I open up a chest. It just feels very unnecessary.
Not all is bad
While it seems there is initially plenty of minus points, the game does have plus points. For one, I really like the expansive feel of the entire world. Exploring every nook and cranny in the game feels huge and gives you the feeling that there is a lot more to discover. I truly enjoyed that sense.
What also really felt right was the light hearted vibe that the game manages to convey. From the sound, graphics to the progression of the story feels straightforward. It is like those Disney cartoons where you can just chill, watch and enjoy the moment to moment sections. Furthermore, I really like looking at the game’s mini map which has a pixelized Ary on it. It is really cute.
In addition, I like how the character design, texture and animations are done well here. While it may not have the same AAA quality in its aesthetics but for a game that uses the Unity engine, it is pretty impressive. The characters themselves showcase a good amount of cute and clear facial expressions as well as fluid movement.
Another neat feature I liked is the use of the elemental spells in conjunction with the world around you especially when confronted with some puzzles.
The first element you would gain early in the game is Winter. With this power chosen, Ary can conjure a sphere like area around her and whatever is in that sphere or comes in contact with it will have some changes. For example casting it on a lake will freeze the an area of the lake which then you opens up an access which you can’t previously.
The change of elements also can affect things such as enemies that which can only be attacked with an element they are weak against. One example I saw was an enemy that has an tree root like armor which is impervious to attacks. However casting the Winter power takes away that armor and exposes them for your attacks to follow through.
Apart from enemies, some doors that have multiple locks can only be activated based on the correspondent element that is used on them.
The use of the elements may not be an innovation or a breakthrough in gaming mechanics but the application in this game really makes it fun to utilize.
It hard to pass judgement on a game that is a preview build when the developer and publishers are already aware of many of the issues that are being ironed out.
I am very certain that it will be more polished as the game approaches its September 1st release date. It will definitely be a shame if the problems still exist in the final build of the game.
Many of the game’s good aspects got me intrigued and I personally think they are well thought out and utilized.
So at the end of the day….Will I be getting it?
There is a very good chance that I will.