Arise: A Simple Story Definitive Edition – Review
Follow Genre: 3D platformer
Developer: Piccolo Studios
Publisher: Untold Tales
Platform: Switch (definitive edition), PC, PS4, Xbox One (regular edition)
Tested on: Switch

Arise: A Simple Story Definitive Edition – Review

Site Score
Good: Surprisingly emotional narrative
Bad: Switch version suffers occasionally from technical limitations
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

As soon as we laid eyes on Arise: A Simple Story’s gorgeous trailer, we were excited to give the game a spin. The game was originally launched in 2019 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, but unfortunately, it had flown under our radar until the Definitive Edition of the game was announced for the Switch. While we could’ve just picked up the earlier release, the promise of new and exclusive features was enough to keep us waiting for the Switch port. That wait is finally over, so how does Arise: A Simple Story Definitive Edition hold up on the hybrid platform?


There is perhaps more to Arise than the full title would have you believe. The premise of the game’s tale is indeed simple, but the execution isn’t. Perhaps a better subtitle would be ‘A Tragic Story’, as the game presents players with an emotionally loaded and at times heart-wrenching narrative. Arise starts with the funeral of our nameless protagonist, an old man clad in tribal furs. The game then takes you on a journey through key events in our protagonist’s life, reflecting on both the joyous moments and the sad events that colored it. The beauty here is that Arise manages to convey all of this without words. The life of our protagonist is laid out through themed levels with fitting music, gorgeous illustrations, and the occasional short cutscene.


With gorgeous art direction, jaw-dropping lighting, and an interface-free world, it’s clear that Arise’s biggest strength lies in its visuals. The graphics deliberately avoid hyper-realism, instead going for a clean style that is cartoonish, yet serene. The game uses a fixed camera perspective, and while this does lead to some gameplay-related frustration (more on that later), it makes great use of camera angles to give the world a chance to shine, often zooming out in such a way that it makes the protagonist feel small and insignificant, which is very fitting for the subject matter. The Switch version does suffer from a couple of issues, likely related to hardware limitations. There is the occasional frame drop, of course, as well as a noticeable amount of pop-in. Despite the game’s already stylized art direction, it seems like the visuals were simplified even further compared to the PC version, likely to increase gameplay performance. Don’t get us wrong, Arise still looks great on the Switch, but it doesn’t carry the same oomph as what we seemingly get on other platforms.


The sweeping orchestral music is befitting of the overall atmosphere that Arise attempts to convey, but unfortunately, the audioscape isn’t without its flaws. The audio quality isn’t always up to par, with occasional unevenness in how crisp the sound is, and there were some strange audio cutoffs between scene transitions. It’s a shame because the music is instrumental -pun not intended- in bringing across the emotional state of our protagonist. There is no real voice acting present either, with most of the voice work simply consisting of the grunts and breathing of the protagonist as he makes his way through the environments.


Platforming gameplay wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to delivering a tragic tale of life and death, so it’s a bit of an odd choice that developer Piccolo Studio went with this idea. The unconventional marriage between gameplay and story works surprisingly well though. Naturally, exploring Arise’s natural landscapes doesn’t feel the same as bouncing through the colorful and cartoony world of the Mushroom Kingdom, but in essence, you’re still running, jumping, and climbing from point A to point B in a 3D environment. Arise does use an interesting time travel mechanic, which adds some uniqueness to the gameplay and the level designs themselves are well thought out. The game’s pacing is also rather unusual, as Arise feels a lot slower than the majority of platformers out there. This is entirely appropriate, given the subject matter, and it lends suitable gravitas to certain scenes.

The time travel mechanic allows you to move time around you either forward or backward, dramatically adjusting the world around you, opening up new pathways, and solving puzzles. You have a couple of other tools at your disposal as well, including your trusty grappling hook, and the flow of the wind, which allows you to soar through the sky, which feels reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy. Combined with elegant controls, this makes Arise a joy to play for the most part. The only flaws that we found were related to the fixed camera perspective and occasionally awkward lighting, which made it sometimes difficult to perceive depth. We ran into several situations where this affected our ability to estimate our jumps, leading to unnecessary frustration. It’s a minor blip in what is otherwise excellent 3D platforming gameplay, but it’s significant enough to warrant a mention.

This version of Arise is touted as the Definitive Edition, and there are some Switch-exclusive features implemented here. There are gyro controls implemented so that you are able to manipulate time simply by moving your controller, and there is also a quasi co-op mode, where one player focuses on moving the protagonist around while the other gets to control time. Another addition that is supposedly exclusive to the Switch is a dynamic photo mode. Rounding the package out is a digital artbook and digital soundtrack, which are the highlights of this specific edition. While these new features don’t feel superfluous, they’re not essential either, so if you already own Arise on PC, PS4, or Xbox One, there is no need to double-dip, and the additions shouldn’t be the catalyst to choose the Switch version over any other platform. Granted, the extra features included here didn’t bump up the price compared to the Steam version, but given that Arise is a fairly short game, clocking in at around four hours, we feel like it’s slightly overpriced anyway, despite the gorgeous presentation.


The Definitive Edition of Arise: A Simple Story is a very enjoyable but slightly flawed port of a great game. The gorgeous presentation, engaging narrative, and enjoyable gameplay should be enough to consider picking this one up. That being said, we’re not quite sure whether the Switch version is the way to go, given the obvious technical limitations that the port has to deal with. The exclusive features aren’t essential, even if they don’t increase the price compared to the Steam version, and given how short Arise is, we’d recommend buying this one at a sale. Coincidentally, at the time of writing a 50% launch discount is in effect until the 28th of May, which seems like a good actual price point, so either act fast or wait until Arise inevitably goes on sale again.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Arise: A Simple Story Definitive Edition - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

1 Comment

  1. […] implemented camera can really affect the enjoyment of a game like this, as we recently saw with Arise: A Simple Story‘s fixed camera perspective, so we were happy to see just how smooth the camera moves here. […]

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    0 people found this helpful
    Was this review helpful?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.