Ary And The Secret Of Seasons

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Modus Games
Developer: Fishing Cactus (EU), Exiin (US)
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2020


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Ary and the Secret of Seasons'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 5, 2020 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

Ary And The Secret Of Seasons is an adventure game that follows the journey of a young girl named Ary across the magnificent world of Valdi.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons is set in a magical world where the power of the seasons is embodied in magical crystals that are protected by guardians. A strange force is throwing the seasons out of whack, and the guardians of the crystals call a meeting to figure out the cause. Ary's father, the Winter Guardian, is unable to attend the gathering. He is still in mourning over the seeming death of his eldest son, Flynn. Without a choice, Ary steals his crystal and sets off to attend the meeting to find out the cause of the upheaval of the world.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons is a rather unabashed Zelda clone. Similar to that franchise, you control a young hero who wanders into various dungeons to gain new gadgets that allow her to take on new challenges. Unlike Link, Ary is a gifted jumper. In the first dungeon, she gains the Wing Boots, which allow her to double-jump. Beyond that, the game will likely feel familiar.

Likewise, combat is basic but enjoyable in the preview build. Ary can attack with her sword, dodge, and parry attacks. Dodging seems important against specific types of enemies, while parrying can deflect most melee attacks. There's nothing overly complex about the combat, but in the preview build, it punishes button-mashing in large fights when enemies hit while you're in mid-combo. The enemies are all familiar types, like the not-goblin hyenas, elemental creatures, and blobs.

Ary's special powers include manipulating the seasons. As the game progresses, she'll gain elemental orbs that let her create "pockets" of autumn, winter, spring and summer, each with its unique attributes. In our demo, we played around the most with winter, which, as you can imagine, freezes things. Additionally, winter can alter the state of the world in distinct ways. Freezing in some areas will create staircases or pathways that weren't otherwise available. On the other hand, it may create barriers that block your way and need to be melted.

The seasons even have an impact on monsters. If you fight enough without taking damage, you can use special solstice powers, which grant you greater agility and defense in addition to other abilities. Enemies also change based on the weather. For example, blobs can freeze solid and transform into blocks that you can use to solve puzzles. Certain kinds of enemies may get stronger in winter, such as hyenas that wear winter parkas to gain ice shields. There are even specific enemy types that only appear when it's cold.

We didn't get as much time with the other elements, but it seems that at a minimum, spring can be used as a "reverse winter" that can thaw things out, and autumn changes the trees. You can have one of each season existing at a time, but no seasons can overlap. This can be used to solve puzzles, such as keeping a patch of spring in the middle of a larger winter zone. Ary also has access to a "Slingshot of Seasons," which lets her shoot special pebbles that can change the seasons from a distance. These can be used to create ice platforms on frozen surfaces to allow for easier platforming.

The preview build was clearly still in progress, but it had a ton of potential. The artwork is charming, and the animations have a lot of personality. The cut scenes felt a touch abrupt, but there is a lot of room for that to improve as time goes by. The voice acting thus far is excellent and captures the Saturday morning cartoon feel that Secret of Seasons is going for. It's a silly game, and it knows it.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons looks to be a fun indie take on the 3D Zelda formula. The elemental orb concept is neat, and I'm looking forward to seeing the creative puzzles in the final version of the game. Ary is a fun character, and I'm interested to see where her story goes. Secret of Seasons is set to come out this September, so we won't have to wait long to see the final game.

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