’m gonna say it now: I frickin’ adore Ary and the Secret of Seasons. It was always going to be the case, though, wasn’t it? I love me a good, colourful, fun, non-threatening adventure game, and Ary and the Secret of Seasons is just that, and a little more.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons follows Ary as she discovers… yeah, you got it, the secret of seasons! Alright, there’s more too it, but I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll keep it funky. Ary is a young, headstrong girl who is mourning the loss of her dear brother. Her mum and dad are just as distraught too, by the apparent demise of Ary’s sibling. He disappeared and never came back. But, Ary comes across his wooden sword after a round of fisticuffs with some hyenas, and she’s convinced that he’s still alive but needs her help. Mum and Dad aren’t so hopeful, so Ary says “to hell with this” (she doesn’t actually say that) and decides she’ll go and rescue him herself.
Luckily for Ary, her dad is the guardian of Winter, and he has some magic crystals. So naturally, she nicks them, cuts her hair short to appear as her lost brother, and then does a runner.
From here on out I tuned out the story and focused on the gameplay. I didn’t want to get caught up in a tale I couldn’t yet finish. Yes, I’m the kind of guy who binge-watches a new series the day it comes out and doesn’t sleep until the final credits roll.
The gameplay was… familiar. I’m not a big Zelda fan, but even I could feel the similarities in how the game played. It’s not on-the-nose, mind you, it just shares a few traits and quirks that put it in the family-friendly group of games.
Baddies aren’t easily killed by throwing yourself at them, you need to parry, dodge, and then jab, depending on who you’re trying to do in. Puzzles are a big part, too, with the power of the seasons playing a big role in how the puzzles play out. I only really got to play around with the winter powers at length, but I did get to try the others too.
It’s really cool how you can use the different seasonal powers, and I appreciated the thought that’s gone into it. It’s clever and versatile. You can freeze some places to create blocks that can be used for puzzles, or, later in the game, you can fire pebbles that hold the power of the seasons, and again, they’re a big part of the puzzle-platformer gameplay. But there’s more. You can use these powers in battle, too, and each season has different effects on enemies. Some will become weaker, others stronger. It’s a nice touch and it gives the simple combat an extra layer to set it apart from its inspirations.
I got to play the final temple that Ary has to explore, too, and it was a doozy. Here I was kitted out with all of the end game goodies, including the ability to double jump – ha, take that Zelda games – and even shoot the seasons with a slingshot. It’s here that I got more curious, not so much about the gameplay, but the story, and what has Ary had to do to get here? I’m intrigued and I’m really looking forward to the final release on September 1st.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons looks set to be another great addition to my library of colourful adventure games, and if you’re looking for a change from the usual shooting, grinding, and looting, I really do suggest you give Ary a look next month.
For the sake of transparency, I played a preview build on PC, and the graphics and performance were great, even on my dusty, neglected rig, so I’ve no doubt it’ll be a looker on consoles, too.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons will release on September 1st, 2020 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. If you’re playing on Stadia (right on, dude!) then you’ll have to wait until November 5th to get a taste of this delicious slice of adventuring.