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Ary and the Secret of Seasons is an action-adventure platformer that follows the journey of the titular protagonist across the magnificent world of Valdi. It’s been developed by Belgian indie studio eXiin, ported to consoles by Fishing Cactus, and published by Modus Games. The award-winning game is expected to release on Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch on September 1, 2020.

Tale of the Titular Ary

Ary and the Secret of Seasons is set in a magical world where each season embodies a crystal and every crystal is protected by a Guardian. Ary is the youngest daughter of Valdi’s Winter Guardian. The opening scene starts with Ary playing with her toy-figures, reciting her own story. It’s a scene that is beautiful to look at and quite reminiscent of the opening scene from The Adventures of Captain Spirit. Soon after, Ary is called by her mother downstairs, and she duly goes and meets her. We learn that her brother Flynn has been missing for weeks and her father has been taking it hard ever since – unable to handle even daily errands. Ary’s mother sends her to the marketplace to get things for dinner.

Ary steals the Winter Crystal

This section followed by a montage where a strange force starts throwing off red crystal shards out of the sky that starts to muck up the village’s weather. The Guardians call upon a seasonal meeting to figure out a way to restore the balance to the village’s weather. Meanwhile, Ary runs into a pack of hyenas that have invaded the marketplace. She and the hyenas engage in a brawl. Ultimately, Ary still prevails. To her surprise, one of the hyenas leaves behind a wooden sword that supposedly belongs to Flynn – speculating he may yet still be alive.

Ary’s mother confides in her

Bursting with hope, Ary rushes to her home. She believes that Flynn may be alive, but her parents are not willing to send a search party. She also learns that her father has been invited to the seasonal meeting but he is unable to join the gathering as he’s still mourning his presumably dead son. Having no other choice, Ary steals the Winter Crystal from her father’s household and sets out on a quest to address the Guardian’s meet and find her lost brother.

“Platforming and Puzzles”

Throughout the game, Ary takes possession of the season crystals. Each crystal can be used to alter the weather of the nearby region- staging some tricky but fun puzzles to overcome. While Ary isn’t a gifted climber like, let’s say- Link, she certainly is a well-accomplished jumper, jumping as high as rooftops. Though the platforming is fun, it feels as if the puzzle mechanics are barely scratching the surface of what they are even capable of. Thus, I’m looking forward to seeing more fleshed out puzzle designs upon its full release.

Winter Crystal allows Ary to freeze nearby region

“Running Errands, Engaging in Brawls”

The quest structure of the game is quite simplistic, you can simultaneously take part in several side missions while taking on the main quest. Though the emphasis is on the main quest, the side errands do not disappoint. I certainly enjoyed playing hide and seek and taking combat lessons from a Samurai dog!

Thank you for your valuable lessons, Sensei!

As for combat, it feels traditional and employs timed dodges and parries. Thanks to the game’s wide FOV, Ary always remains at the center of the screen and there are no camera obstructions. The combat system will be quite familiar for those having played Assassin’s Creed titles and BoTW.

Beta Impressions of far

 

The game’s narrative tone bears a child-like whimsicality, like the ones we see in Pixar movies. The voice-acting, the background score, and the atmosphere: the game ticks all the right boxes. All of this is backed by the gorgeous art design that looks quite astounding. Whether it’s the terrain, foliage, or the water, everything in this world is brimming with subtle details. The water ripples heavily and resembles the Gamecube classic – Windwaker’s visuals and it’s hard not to fall in love with it! Its fluid combat and unconfined quest structure are quite reminiscent of BoTW.  For a Zelda inspired game, it sure looks and feels the part.

I cannot wait to see more of Ary and the Secret of Seasons and September 1st can’t come soon enough. Nintendo may have disappointed us with their sparse lineup this year but Ary’s here for the rescue.

 

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