Ary and the Secret of Seasons – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Puzzle, Platformer
Publishers: Modus Games, Maximum Games
Developers: eXiin, Fishing Cactus, Exiin SPRL
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

Ary and the Secret of Seasons – Review

Site Score
3.0
Good: Great voice acting
Bad: Sub par gameplay
User Score
2.0
(5 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 2.0/10 (5 votes cast)

Back in August, we covered the preview, or rather demo, for Ary and the Secret of Seasons. Now, after its release on the 1st of September, we’ve had a chance to come back to it. That said, for those who have already read the aforementioned preview, there is not much more to say as there are little to no changes in anything other than the story, which is now finished.

Story

Ary and the Secret of Seasons’ story revolves around Ary, the daughter of the winter’s guardian. After some crystals fall from the sky, changing the seasons, Ary’s father is summoned to a meeting with the other guardians. Unluckily, he is unable to go due to his current state as he grieving for Ary’s disappeared brother. This prompts Ary to decide to go in his stead, changing her appearance to look like her brother Flynn and taking his dad’s winter crystal. Once she arrives at the meeting, Ary finds out the other guardians have been knocked out and their crystals are stolen. Luckily, Dagdann, the guardian of Summer, reveals he left his at home, where Ary must go to retrieve it.

This is where the preview left off, cutting the story short. The finished game continues after this point but the plot becomes fairly complicated. The game replaces its initial villain, to replace it with another villain. This evil presence does drive the story forward, and does have an influence, the plot is actually poorly written.

Graphics

The game’s graphics are not its high point either, despite what one may have expected. Its true buildings and cities are impressive and beautiful, and the characters are well animated and expressive. Sadly, some other things are mediocre at best; characters clip through textures, the shine in certain materials is unnatural and the environment textures are repetitive. This last one is especially true for winter areas, which have the same “white with random blue patches” look everywhere.

We mentioned clipping earlier, and that is for a reason. There is nothing more annoying than losing your immersion because of characters clipping through walls, or actually having see-through walls.

Sound

Luckily, after so much dark and grime there is some good left. Ary and the Secret of Seasons does a stellar job with its sound direction, from the great soundtrack to the amazing voice acting. The first covers a variety of high-quality tracks that accompany the player everywhere, while the second occurs only in cutscenes.

This voice acting has been clearly made by a passionate team who knew what they were doing. The line delivery is great and fleshes out the characters without ever sounding out of place. That said, the previously mentioned limitation to cutscenes is a shame, every other dialogue only entails a few gibberish-like sounds.

Gameplay

Ary and the Secret of Seasons is both a 3D platformer and a puzzle game, the second being mostly limited to dungeons à la Zelda. In the game, the player roams around controlling Ary and employing the powers of the season crystals to unlock new areas. Along the way, secondary quests, chests and other things can be found, though they are mostly irrelevant for reasons that will be covered later.

The game’s dungeons are well designed, wearing the influence of the Zelda series on their sleeves. Each dungeon has one gimmick item that must be obtained in order to further progress, be it double jump, a magnet, etc. Most puzzles are quite simple; definitely not the kind that would break any heads or require much effort. They are often little more than moving an object to a trigger or beating a few enemies, mostly relying on the platforming to work.

As mentioned in the preview, the gameplay is quite a weak spot for the game. Both the combat and exploration mechanics are limited and clunky. The first is little more than whacking enemies and parrying or dodging (the second is often more reliable). It is true there are also special seasonal attacks, but these are little more than an afterthought, seeing as they deal virtually no damage. Attempting to fight clusters of enemies often becomes a complete pain, being unable to hit all of them at once while they can all attack with different timing.

The reason why the exploration is so limited is how the world is comprised of a “fake” open-world. The player can roam anywhere they want, but there is no fast traveling system and nothing to see. At most, some chests can be found while exploring around, but these only contain a few coins, limited in use to a few upgrades and cosmetics. There is little to no incentive in exploring, everything feels samey and repetitive, with chests containing as little as 8 gold coins becoming complete wastes of time.

This time-wasting issue also applies to side-quests in the game, which, besides a few exceptions, are all fetch quests. A character will ask Ary to go somewhere and obtain something and bring it back. This, due to the lack of movement options, becomes very old very quickly. Similarly to exploration and chests, these side-quests also offer completely irrelevant, to not say worse, rewards. At best a new cosmetic item will be obtained, and at worst a measly amount of gold.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons offers very little value for the player’s time, sending them around for no reason to obtain nothing. This also applies to the main story quest, which soon becomes the tired cliché of obtaining items to defeat the evil guy, aka a whole new fetch quest.

The issues with the game don’t end here though, seeing as it currently (as of September 9th, 2020) is riddled with bugs. These include, but are not limited to, cutscenes without audio, environmental clipping, bosses retaining damage dealt after player defeat, bosses becoming soft-locked, etc. It is very clear the game is still very unpolished and rough around the edges, not to talk about the woeful UI with no keyboard mapping.

Conclusion

Ary and the Secret of Seasons is an alright-at-best game with a load of bugs and issues. For its incredibly high price tag it is definitely not worthy of purchase or even consideration, at least in its current state. It is a shame since the game showed some potential, but a lot of issues from the preview remained without being even slightly retouched.

Personal Opinion

“I don’t hate Ary and the Secret of Seasons, it is not a woeful game by any means, but it isn’t good either. There are SO many bugs everywhere and virtually nothing to do besides the continuous fetch quests. Funnily enough, I contacted the developer after I played the preview, providing them with a video containing several of the issues with the game. Were they fixed? You can guess the answer to several of them. I will say though, with a LOT of work and improvements Ary could become a pretty decent game, though not at the insanely high price it asks. To be honest, my opinion as a cheapskate is that it is highway robbery for a not even double A-game, especially so taking into account how rough the game is.“

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Rating: 2.0/10 (5 votes cast)
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Ary and the Secret of Seasons - Review, 2.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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