There seems to be a plethora of games out there where you play as an animal (usually a fox, but sometimes a wolf) exploring forests and other natural environments. Seriously, it should be a genre all its own. Fe, The First Tree, Spirit of the North, and Lost Ember are all examples of this, and while I played the first two, I skipped on the latter two because I don’t need more of the same general game. But I did give one more similar game a chance because it was on sale for roughly $2 or $3, Seasons After Fall.
The first thing that stands out with Seasons After Fall is the outstanding art style, which is actually hand-painted, so you know a lot of effort went into the game’s graphics. The soundtrack was pleasant, though I can’t say I remember it super well. The voice acting was well done and the story was simple, but fit in with the game quite nicely.
But how does the actual gameplay hold up? Well, the game is broken up into four major sections, each of which you must visit in order to master the four seasons and other various objectives. The most interesting thing about this game is the ability to switch between seasons in order to solve puzzles and navigate your environment. For example, winter freezes water so you can walk on it, mushrooms grow in autumn, and spring raises water levels, while summer lowers it. It’s all a really neat and creative concept. Unfortunately…that’s where my positives end.
I’m sorry to say it, but this game wasn’t very fun. For one thing, the fox doesn’t control very well. I feel like the jumps are delayed or something because I would often fall off of platforms even though I could swear I pressed the jump button in time. Even turning seems a bit stiff, so the controls alone were a hindrance to gameplay.
To top it off, after you master the four seasons, you have to return to each section for other purposes, such as releasing the four winds and finding a specific alter, and it all got old quite fast. I would have liked more new places to explore and more variety in environments rather than just having to revisit largely the same old locations over and over again with a few superficial new things thrown in. In this way, non-optional objectives ended up feeling like filler, making the game more of a chore to play rather than a fun and engaging experience.
That’s why I find it rather odd that so many of these similar games exist. Because Fe was another game with an interesting and unique concept, where you learn the languages of other animals so that you can communicate with them and influence the world around you. But it wasn’t terribly fun, either. The only game of this “genre” that I would recommend would be The First Tree, not because of its gameplay (which is also on the light side), but because of its story and emotional message. So if you’re interested in any sort of experience, even if it’s not heavy on gameplay, The First Tree might be a good option to check out. But if it’s a fun game you’re looking for, there’s nothing with this general, explore the woods as a fox/wolf, concept that I can really recommend at this time. For me, I’ve had quite enough of these kinds of games, thank you very much.
Has anyone here played Lost Ember or Spirit of the North? Would you recommend either of these games? Is there another similar sort of game that I haven’t mentioned that you think would be better? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
This post was originally published on Virtual Bastion on January 26, 2021.