Ary and the Secret of Seasons Xbox One Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Action Adventure
 
Rating: PG
 
Release Date: 1st September, 2020
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
3/5


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

Positives


- Great care has been taken in creating the game's lore
- Controlling the four seasons is fun
- Dungeons are a joy to tackle and overcome

Negatives


- Several glitches
- Average combat
- Uninspiring fetch quests


Posted September 21, 2020 by

 
Full Article
 
 

Ary and the Secret of Seasons was developed by Belgian indie studio Exiin. Founded in 2015, the developer had previously worked on several mobile games before starting work on Ary in 2017. The team was only small, consisting of 5-10 staff working on the game at any moment, which is quite the achievement given the title is a full 3D action adventure. While it’s clear a lot of time and energy has been spent on creating the world and gameplay mechanics, the finished product is plagued by bugs which hinder the overall experience.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons is set in the world of Valdi. Many years ago, Valdi was cursed so that its regions would only experience one season. The inhabitants adapted and soon the Guardians of the Seasons were formed, an organisation traditionally ruled by men who can summon the power of the seasons and protect Valdi. One day, however, mysterious red crystals fall from the sky and change the seasons, ruining the livelihoods of the locals. During these events the titular Ary, the daughter of the Winter Guardian, sets out to find her lost brother and take on the mantle of becoming a Guardian apprentice. It’s clear a lot of care has been taken in crafting the game’s lore, which is slowly revealed as you talk to NPCs and locate information plagues scattered throughout the environment. Without revealing too much about the plot, the developers are clearly hopeful this becomes an on-going franchise.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons is heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda. Players explore vast areas, completing quests which will award you with in-game money or progress the main plot. Annoyingly, quests are mostly relegated to mundane fetch quests, so repetition does set in. Combat is also straight forward; you can swing a sword to strike at enemies, counter attack and perform a dodge roll. It’s not quite as smooth as the Zelda games, but it works. The camera system, however, has the tendency to auto lock-on to the target furthest away from Ary when fighting larger groups. This can get frustrating and hampers the flow of combat. There’s also little variety to the enemies you encounter, save for some spectacular boss battles, which makes for an ultimately dull and average experience.

Where the game excels though is Ary’s elemental powers. Throughout the campaign, players will be able to unleash the powers of the four seasons. This will change the environment for the purpose of solving puzzles and gaining access to other areas. The way it works is players can freely summon a bubble which causes the season of the environment to change inside that sphere. Winter, for example, can be used to form ice platforms to cross lake beds. Other seasons cause vines to grow that will allow you to climb walls, as well as dry out pools of water. As you progress you will have to use multiple elements at once to solve puzzles, which can get quite challenging as you figure out the right combinations.

The game’s dungeons are another highlight, featuring various puzzles and challenges to overcome. This includes activating switches within a given timeframe, using Ary’s elemental powers to guide balls through obstacle courses and also avoiding pitfalls. There are also some platforming elements, such as timing jumps to avoid spikes and other hazards which are in your path. The dungeons themselves are a linear experience, but are also a complete joy to tackle and overcome. 

Ary and the Secret of Seasons would have benefited from a few more months of development time to iron out various glitches and bugs. There’s a weird glitch where the incorrect season occasionally appears within the sphere, moments where Ary turns invisible, quests which don’t register as completed, and occasionally the camera will get stuck after talking to NPCs. At times even the game’s music will just stop playing as well. Many of these issues are thankfully being addressed by the developers via post-launch updates, but the game should not have been released in such a sorry state in the first place.

Visually, the game looks like a budget modern day CGI animation. Cutscenes in particular look great, but the rest of the game is let down by rough, low-res textures and distracting pop-in. The whole world is bright and colourful, making it particularly appealing for children. It’s also impressive that you can freely cycle between the seasons and the game reacts smoothly to the sudden state and graphical changes. The soundtrack is whimsical, featuring some strong inspired pieces that match the tone and setting of what’s happening on screen.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons is a delightful action adventure that has great gameplay ideas but ultimately falls short. There are a lot of glitches, the combat is average at best and the visuals feature low-res textures. The ability to control the four seasons and use them to solve puzzles is a redeeming feature, but the reality is there are plenty of stronger titles in the genre available. 

Ary and the Secret of Seasons was reviewed on an Xbox One X console with a review copy provided by Turn Left Distribution. The game is also available on PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch. For more information, check out the game’s official website.


Joseph Rositano

 
While Joseph's main hobby has always centered around video games, he's also taken an interest in movies, musicals and traveling around the world. No one quite knows what Joseph's true motivations are, but rest assured he is always planning his next grand adventure!