Ary and the Secret of Seasons has been a highly anticipated indie title since it surfaced a few years back. Developed by eXlin, the game promised fans to build upon the action-adventure genre as a unique puzzler. Upon the game's release, Ary and the Secret of Seasons charmed fans, but it didn't take long before its quirky story was obscured by intrusive glitches and bugs.
To get a better view of the game, Ary and the Secret of Seasons tells the story of its titular heroine. Ary is a young girl living in Yule, one of the four lands of Valdi. Her homeland houses the winter season while the other lands cater to their respective season. Her older brother Flynn is set to take her father's role as the Winter Guardian, but after he goes missing, the family begins falling apart. But when disaster strikes Valdi, Ary takes it upon herself to save the world and hopefully find her brother all in one go.
The story of Ary and the Secret of Seasons is a compelling one. The game has impressive voice acting and cinematic cutscenes throughout. Its heroine is feisty and willing to do just about anything for her family, even if that means assuming her brother's identity. Players will follow Ary as she masters Valdi's four seasons to discover the truth behind their recent disruptions. And when players are able to use her seasonal powers, the game truly shines.
The unique power gives Ary the ability to summon bubbles around her that bring a specific season to life. Winter allows her to summon ice blocks while others grow foliage. This tool is used to solve the game's dungeons, and it makes things fairly challenging. Seasons can also be used in battle, but they aren't as effective as you would think.
The combat system of this game operates on two levels: insanely easy and unforgiving. It has a parry system that is hard to master but absolutely vital in later battles. Battling enemies as Ary hardly seems worth your time, and with no tangible rewards given for victories, I found myself skipping as many fights as possible by sneaking past foes.
While the game's combat system is lackluster, it does work. Ary and the Secret of Seasons has a bigger problem, and that is its unfinished pitfalls. I encountered more bugs than I could count while playing this game on the PlayStation 4. Ary would regularly fall through the map, glitch into places she should not be in, and that is just the start. Enemies would glitch in battle, at times forcing me to reload, and the game itself would blur or stretch in crowded areas. These cosmetic issues are certainly annoying, but the game-breaking glitches made me want to rage-quit at several points. Not even Ary's dogged personality could make me feel better.
At the heart of Ary and the Secret of Seasons rests a good story and a delightful world ripe for exploring. The only thing that keeps players from experiencing the world in full is the game's half-done execution. The glitches alone will put off seasoned gamers, and given this game's young demographic, it is hard to imagine kids suffering through the slips. This is a shame as Ary is the kind of character you want to root for. But after one too many glitches, her dazzling personality will fail to keep gamers plugged in.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is now available on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows. A PS4 code was provided by the publisher for this review.