Ary and the secret of seasons review: Bring some seasoning to your games library.


Ary and the Secret of Seasons is an adventure game revolving around a young girl named Aryelle. She lives in a small town with her family dealing with the recent disappearance of her older brother. But it seems that more calamity is yet to come.
Long ago, the world of Valdi was threatened by an evil mage. After a great struggle, he was defeated by someone only known as the Legendary Warrior and sealed inside a Vault, imprisoned for all eternity. To ensure the mage's imprisonment, four great sages swore to keep watch and protect the Vault. They formed the original Guardians of Seasons, a secretive organization now steeped in history and legend.



After a mysterious force throws the seasons of Valdi into disarray, it falls upon Ary to assist the Guardians of Seasons set out to find out what is happening and see if it has anything to do with her brothers disappearance. Using her wits and courage, Ary will have to overcome monstrous enemies, secret plots, and stuffy traditions to save Valdi and bring balance to the world once more.By becoming the Guardian of Winter, Ary gains the ability to manipulate the seasons around her and use them to defeat enemies, overcome obstacles, and solve complex puzzles she encounters during her adventure. 


Gameplay
Movement and combat is straight forward and effective in Ary, Hold LT to lock on to an enemy. There is a hit button, a counter button one for roll and off course the jump button. Fight an enemy or a group of enemies using a combination of blocks , dodges and hits.
Later in the game you will encounter enemies that might have certain armors on like ice shields or thorns. Lure them into a season bubble that counters their protection,think summer for ice, and you expose them and make them easier to take out.



As you move through your quest you unlock seasonal powers that allow you to take down enemy defenses, reveal hidden parts of the world and solve complex puzzles. There is spring, summer, fall and winter. As you get more powers you will have to start thinking out of the box and try different combinations to progress. Still there will be areas you cannot conquer for a while until later in the game. As any good adventure game you will come back once you have acquired new tools and powers.


As you move through the game completing missions and locating hidden chests you collect coin that can be used to buy costume items which are for looks only, or you can use them to buy and upgrade skills such as health, hit damage etc. There are three levels for each skill to purchase. The costume items tend to be very expensive so I opted to just focus on skills during my run through. Some quests will reward you with a cool item so you will have access to a few outfits as you play the game.  Besides skills and the seasonal powers it is also important to have the right tools to progress through the game. Fairly early on you receive the double jump boots but there are a bunch more to obtain each of the important to get to every secret and collectible.  


There are quite a few collectibles available throughout the game and most of them give lore information about the world of Valdi and its history. Besides these collections there are also a lot of achievements attached to completing them. There is a lot of content in the game which is great for competitions. Some of them are hard to get but not impossible, just remember you might not be able to get there just yet.



Presentation
Ary and the secret of seasons feels like a game with two sides of the same c. At times it is a beautiful game with beautiful lighting and colors and and other times looks dated and suffers from glitches and collisions.   The character design of Ary , the enemies and some of the main NPC's are interesting but other lesser NPC's feel like cheap asset place holders with unfinished animations. This inconsistency was also present in the gameplay, especially in the first half of the game.  The world you enter is very open, besides having to complete some missions in order to progress you can go wherever you wanna go but as a result some things can get glitchy and I have had to reload an old save in order to back track and redo part of the game. The story line seemed inconsistent as well in parts and sometimes skip where I was confused in what just happened. Games do not always have to hand hold too much, but having context and understanding what something does is still important. 

Still the voice acting is pretty good and the overall feel of the game was enough to keep going forward for a bit longer.  And after a big moment around 40% into the game everything changes. Without going too much into spoilers, this is the moment you have to collect season cores from the various temples throughout the continent. This is the strong part of Ary and the secret of seasons and where the game shines. The puzzles are complex, the temples are big levels and fun to discover.  Dare I say it they remind me in a way of Zelda Breath ofd the wild. Each temple has a special tool in the beginning that are needed to make it too the end. These tools also allow you to complete puzzles in the world itself. The ability to swim, or grow vines and more are used to navigate some devious traps. At the end of the temple you will find a guardian who holds a core. Collect all four to activate the weapon you need to defeat the antagonist who has been raging havoc around the world.

The difference between the first part of the game and the latter part at distinct and even if the temple missions still have some glitches as well, the overall experience is so much better. It feels as the two parts were made separately and the game would have probably benefited from a short delay to polish it and make the part work better together. However the developer is highly involved with the community and patching out any issues at a fast rate. Just keep in mind that those patches take a bit to come out on consoles due to their approval processes.

Audio
As I mentioned the voice acting in the cut scenes is great and I wish there was more of it. Like wise the sound design and the music are great. Lovely orchestral melodies play with unique themes for each world and dynamic changes as you enter battles. The menu sounds are pleasant, the battle sound sound full and small little things such as a chime when you solve a part of a puzzle to let  you know you are on the right path are great additions.

Final thoughts

Ary and the season of secrets is one of those games that despite the issue it has delivers a great experience that is worth it to move forward to the problematic bits in order to get to the sweet delicious center. The game would have benefited from some more time in the oven or a larger team but overall is better then the sum of its parts. The temple puzzles and the guardian battles as well as the fun writing , the self aware dialog at times and neat enemy designs made the game enjoyable and at times awe inspiring. Is it enough for you? That depends what you find acceptable and how your expectations are set. In this review I hope to have made clear what to expect.  For me the game makes me smile when I boot it up and take my season powers for a spin. The developer involvement makes me hopeful it will get a bit more polished and I would conciser another play through. Ary also ends on a bit of a cliffhanger message so I wonder if some DLC is in the works. I do not think this is a $60 tripple A game, but for the right price you would do well to consider exploring the world of Valdi, restore the seasons and discover its secrets.



Game information:
Title: Ary and the secret of seasons
Developer: Fishing Cactus, Exiin SPRL, eXiin, 
Publisher: Modus games
Release date: 1st September 2020
Platforms: PC (STEAM) Nintendo Switch,Xbox One, PlayStation 4.
Review platform:  PC (Steam)
ESRB: E 10+ Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol

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