Coming from the Belgian developers at eXiin and Fishing Cactus and being published by Modus Games, Ary and the Secret of Seasons is a brand new action adventure that draws inspiration from the likes of Zelda. It’s out now for PC as well as consoles, and here’s our review.
Ary (short for Aryelle) is the protagonist in Secret of Seasons, and she lives in a small wintery town called Yule. At the start of the game, the town is suddenly attacked by hyenas and an equally sudden storm of fire crystals turns the white plains of Yule’s environments into a summer spectacle, turning the cycle of seasons into chaos. This turns out to not be an isolated incident either, because it’s affected other towns in the region of Valdi as well, and they have to band together to figure out what happened and make sure things don’t get worse.
Ary’s brother Finn is the local Guardian, but has been missing for a while and can’t attend a meeting with the Guardians from other towns. As a result, Ary has to take his place and embark on what soon turns out to be a much grander adventure than that simple meeting initially suggests.
As with the Zelda games, Ary and the Secret of Seasons plays out inside a big open world that is filled with ruins to explore and quests to undertake, as well as plenty of secrets to uncover. Ary herself, in her new role, also has access to spheres that can influence the weather around her by associating it with one of the seasons. In doing so, she can make water freeze over, opening new pathways to previously undiscovered secrets, but there are many more ways to play around which this novel mechanic.
Visually, Ary and the Secret of Seasons takes a few cues from the recent Zelda adventures as well, with cartoon-like visuals and lots of bright colors that help make each season stand out from the next one. The graphics could have been more detailed and looks more like an HD game in the PS3/X360 generation, but I suppose making things more detailed would’ve hurt the performance on the Switch. The current art style works well in crafting something that’s family-friendly to watch and play though, so in that sense it’s a definite success.
Combat is fairly straightforward once you master dodging incoming attacks and striking afterwards, and there is a nice mix of combat, puzzles and exploration as you progress through the game’s campaign. Although visually very suitable for younger players, the gameplay can be a tad too challenging for players under the recommended age rating of 12 while being a little too easy for more experienced players. Perhaps this could be a great title to play together with children by sharing the controls over the course of the campaign.
I’d hold off until a few post-launch patches have been released though, as Ary and the Secret of Seasons was launched with a range of bugs that hinder the gameplay experience, ranging from stuttering frame rates to mandatory reloads and screen tearing. The developer has already labeled many of these as known issues though, so here’s hoping they get fixed sooner rather than later. It’s not as good as the Zelda games that inspired it, but Ary and Secret of Seasons is an action adventure well worth playing and deserves to be a smooth experience.