A Fold Apart – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Lightning Rod Games
Publisher: Lightning Rod Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam), PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

A Fold Apart – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: Entertaining puzzles, Low entry level
Bad: The story drags out and doesn't feel well paced
User Score
8.7
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.7/10 (3 votes cast)

Puzzle games have always been a popular genre, more so whenever they bring innovative mechanics to the table. Such is the case for A Fold Apart with its paper folding mechanics. Using this innovation and its story about a long-distance relationship, a topic not often explored, A Fold Apart attempts to set itself apart from other games in the genre.

Story

The story in A Fold Apart revolves around the relationship between the main characters, Teacher and Architect. After some time being together, Architect is offered a position in the city for a building project, making the lovers live apart. Over time, we are shown how their relationship strains, each of them having insecurities, thoughts, and feelings they need to deal with, doing so in dream worlds were the puzzles of the game are hosted.

This story is intended to be the main focus of the game; the problem is it ultimately ends up being relegated to a second place, due to how the gameplay around it is managed. The puzzles around which the gameplay is based cut the story, whilst they are not difficult at all. Some are obscure enough to require attention, distracting from the story, and breaking its pacing.

Another issue with the story is how hard it tries to build tension, tugging at the heartstrings of the players to the point it sometimes breaks them. Several of the scenes are purely based around manufactured tension between the protagonists, which doesn’t feel natural in the slightest, somewhat removing depth and nuance from the characters.

Graphics

The graphics in A Fold Apart are remarkably well done, with a style reminiscent of Pixar productions. Throughout the game the quality and style remain consistent, though later this can be argued to be in its detriment, making environments somewhat samey, there being not much difference between one dreamland puzzle and another.

Each of the characters has a distinct set of colors associated with them: Architect gets the colder ones such as blue, purple, and grey while Teacher gets the warmer ones with a wider range, from greens to oranges and reds. The game also uses the color tones to convey feelings, darkening them for sadness, or brightening them for happiness, helping to set the tone of the scenes.

Sound

A Fold Apart has a great soundtrack, which intertwines with its story, amplifying the feelings the story conveys perfectly. There are also several sound effects to be found, but they are few. Even so, they are well made, adding little accents but without intruding or disturbing the flow.

The game has no voice acting, which is a shame but possibly reasoned behind wanting players to identify with the characters. It could also be because it would require several voice actors, since at the start of the game the player can choose what gender they want the characters to be.

Gameplay

The gameplay is an important part of A Fold Apart, consisting of puzzles based around a folding mechanic. What this mechanic entails, is that the puzzle areas are treated as pieces of paper, with which the player directly interacts, being able to flip, rotate or fold them. As the game progresses, more elements get added to the puzzles, such as blocks to move around or disappearing platforms.

The core loop of the game is quite simplistic. Once the player gets used to the general style of the puzzles they can easily be solved. Some are somewhat more obscure, but the general difficulty of the game is still pretty low. Though, even if the difficulty of the game were an issue for some players, there is an option to use hints, which will straight up solve the puzzle step by step.

As previously mentioned, the puzzles break the progression of the story, especially the ones that require several steps. This is due to how most of it is narrated a pair of sentences at a time, thus a single interruption breaks the pacing, more so if said interruption requires the player’s attention for long enough for them to forget the sentence.

Another problem with pacing is how gruelingly slow the movement and interaction with puzzles can be at times. For example, whenever the characters climb a platform the player is forced to wait out the pair of seconds it takes for them to do so. This also happens whenever the player rotates or flips the scene, control is seized from them and they’re forced to watch the animation before making any other movement. These issues may seem petty, but in the long run, they add up and get fairly annoying.

There are some small annoyances here and there, such as the game not detecting the drag on the sides when trying to fold, or the fold being excessively accurate, otherwise not working, but these are absolutely minor and don’t get in the way.

An issue that can be found as well as the length of the game. Since the puzzles are not the most challenging, the total playtime comes to around two to three hours, with barely any replayability due to the kind of game it is.

Conclusion

A Fold Apart is a heartwarming game that deals with a kind of relationship not commonly delved on. The story is well crafted even if the pacing may be somewhat lacking, but it compensates by handling it properly. Whilst the game may not be challenging, it is entertaining to play, though it does come off as somewhat short. It is still a recommendable game, at least on a sale, since the $20/16.79€/£15.49 may be somewhat steep for what it offers.

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Rating: 8.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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A Fold Apart - Review, 8.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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