Review: Ary and the Secret of Seasons (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Ary and the Secret of Seasons
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (6.47 GB)
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Publisher: Modus Games
Developer: eXiin
Original MSRP: $39.99 (US), £34.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 12
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Ary and the Secret of Seasons, or ASS for short, is a game about exploration, changing seasons, solving puzzles, and a constant nagging of nostalgia. Okay, I have to abbreviate it another way.

Gameplay:
Ary and the SS [definitely not this abbreviation] looks like an old game, and the basic controls make it feel that way too. I have no idea why the Touchpad has been ignored. It was only luck that I stumbled upon a quick way to access the Map, Quests, Inventory, and Notes tabs. To avoid the needless trudge through the Options menu, simply keep hold of said button and it takes you straight to the aforementioned tabs.

The game has a messy fighting system that utilizes a simple parry and dodge system, which works well enough, but not when surrounded, or after a few successful counters it sometimes fails to register button presses. This means my character takes damage and eventually I have to restart the encounter. Some of the enemies seem to wear pathetically weak armour, and with a successful strike, it can be knocked off, eventually leaving a dead, naked, corpse. Why? I have no idea.

Boring fetch quests seem to be the favorite objective in this game. One quest had me searching a small town for a guard who ended up being behind the Captain who was searching for him in the first place. Not funny.

A small section of the game forces my character into running away from a rampaging enemy, and several obstacles and traps stand in the way of the exit. It wasn’t fun, and it annoyed my kids to the point of putting down the controller and asking to play something else.

Visuals:
AatSoS [worst abbreviation yet] often looks very dated. Simple but nice NPC character models inhabit a world with a noticeably low polygon count. A few of the main characters are more detailed and look passable. Floating assets and background scenery that wouldn’t look out of place on a PlayStation 3, albeit with fewer jaggies, make up a lackluster world.

As I climbed the last step to the Dome of Seasons, I longed for a Slinky and also realized the areas can be quite bland. It has got some nice moments, but the general feeling of a little too much ambition and not enough time keeps popping up.

The predictable story is largely told through some cutscenes, which try to inject some humor into the game. Very occasionally it works, but most of the time it feels awkward and reminiscent of a bad Sunday morning cartoon.

There were a few odd glitches when casting certain seasonal bubbles in particular areas, and I almost got my character permanently stuck when trying to explore the boundaries of the game.

Audio:
The Secret of Seasons [Much better] does feature some nice music, and even some voice acting in the cutscenes. As I mentioned before, some of the jokes fall flat, but I didn’t hate what I heard. As I kick the anthropomorphic enemies’ collective arse, my character says some silly one-liners, such as “Son of a cow,” and “Everyone has good in them… Maybe not you.” I did grow tired of this after an hour or so.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only and features no online component.

Conclusion:
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is over-ambitious and features too many dated mechanics and gameplay elements that make it more of a chore than an enjoyable adventure. The main gameplay gimmick of creating different seasonal bubbles stops being fun after half an hour, and the missions are just plain tedious.

The story is aimed at a younger audience, but the level design and navigation system are pains and deter all ages from exploring the dreary world. I admire anyone who got through the entirety of this game and applaud the very few who got the Platinum.

I have been harsh in this review and should point out it isn’t all bad. I just couldn’t stomach it myself and wish it had been dialed back in scope.

Score:
5.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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