Starting off in a rather peaceful time, Ary, daughter to the Guardian of Winter, aims to set out on a journey to find out what happened to her brother who has been missing for several weeks. Told to stay put and nor do anything rash, obviously our protagonist is going to do anything but. Stealing her brother’s clothes, cutting her hair and “borrowing” her father’s Orb of Winter, Ary soon finds herself on a much greater journey as the balance of the four realms are thrown out of whack.
Like A Knight’s Quest last year, Ary and the Secret of Seasons finds itself in a bit of a comfortable “niche” spot where it manages to both evoke those nostalgic adventure days on the Nintendo 64 while still bringing modern day quality of life aspects to the journey. Having most of the core mechanics from the beginning, Ary can run, jump, climb, and swim if neebe. As any good adventure title goes, as time moves on new abilities come into play through items such as double jumping, being able to dive under the water, pull large objects along for the ride and climb up the vines to the top of a wall or platform.
Adding a bit more flair like in Seasons After Fall, Ary will be able to start affecting the environment with the powers of Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Integrated into the plotline, the four regions that make up this land are out of whack as the eternal climates have been changed by corrupted crystals turning summer into winter, winter into summer, spring to fall, and fall to spring. To cross through these, Ary will have to create seasoned bubbles that can melt ice, wilt vines or drain water to move across to her location.
For the most part, all of these mechanics work fairly well on their own but unfortunately when you start to mix and match a few of these together things don’t always jive as well as I would have liked. Climbing up vines for example sometimes don’t let you reach the ledge and pull yourself up instead needing you to jump off and then somehow jump back up to the platform. In other cases you have to find a way in order to get several seasonable bubbles to “play nice” with one another. Unfortunately it was more often than not a chore and getting lucky in something working than actual skill. In the simplest of terms, often it was possible to have done something right off the bat but because of how the sphere formed it led you to try a ton of different ideas instead and in the end, you just wind up doing the very first thing you tried and it worked just ‘cause.
In these cases, Ary’s adventure could have used a bit more polish as separately, using just one seasonal sphere works just fine, the platforming for the most part works fine until you bring vines into the mix as there’s no real mechanic to jump off of them and the combat? It’s simple but it works fine. Throughout the world, Ary is going to have to defend herself and she can do so with coffee cups, wooden or mechanical swords, sticks and a variety of other objects for flavour. The weapons themselves didn’t really seem to do much of a difference so a wooden spoon was an obviously legitimate choice when fighting hyenas that have invaded the lands.
Like a lot of other adventures, Ary’s is not one of accumulating experience points and leveling up. Instead, there is a sensei that can teach Ary new abilities such as being able to cause more damage, being more agile while in combat, do more damage while parrying a blow and a few other little things. The main issue with this is that it costs money, and money, can only be found in chests so when you are only getting 13 to 56 coins, it’s going to take a while to be able to buy these training sessions especially when the cheapest is 200 coins and then jumps up to 400. Having enemies drop a bit as they respawn could have really helped in this department especially since the large chests were rare and sometimes? You could even get a big fat “0” coins in a chest. Already rare enough to find, giving me nothing really irked me especially with how hard it was to get to.
The adventure isn’t all about how well it works though. While yes, you’ll be spending your time running, jumping, climbing, and changing the broken seasons around, this is still the journey about family and not giving up on one that was lost. Even with the world thrown out of whack and her brother missing, the narrative is still light and fun with plenty of nonsense to make one smile which helps ease a bit of the more mechanical issues that Ary has while going through the trials to basically save the world.
Now unfortunately, there are currently loads of glitches with Ary’s adventure from parrying not working to glitching through doors, walls and other things making you need to reload the title over and over again. While I could never figure out why the parrying would come and go, at least you could dodge in the meantime. As for the other? It could be brutal as the cost of progress was annoying especially since, and the last major issue is this, even if you’ve saved, it doesn’t mean everything you’ve done has saved. Often it would be close enough but you would have to do it all over again.