Jumping into Ary and the Secret of Seasons – an action-adventure title – we’re immediately reminded of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. We’re introduced to our heroine Ary, who, by playing with her toy figures, recounts an ancient story of an evil mage vanquished by a legendary warrior. Before too long, Ary is whisked away on her own adventure where she will encounter evil hyenas, crumbling ruins, and various puzzles. It’s a strong start to a game that unfortunately couldn’t retain our interest thanks to poor combat, lacklustre visuals, and distracting glitches.
The overarching premise of a world turned upside down by mixed-up seasons is told wonderfully through well-orchestrated cutscenes and impressive animation. The characters ooze charm and we were immediately taken with the story’s protagonist. It's a bit disappointing that the plot forces Ary to dress up like her brother, Flynn, in order to progress with her mission, but thankfully the game doesn’t dwell too much on this particular aspect. There are also plenty of colourful characters to meet and converse with as you traverse the magical world of Valdi, and the environments feel much more lived-in as a result.
In terms of gameplay, you gain a wooden sword early on, and you can attack enemies with it in a similar fashion to 3D Zelda titles. Unfortunately, the combat feels incredibly disjointed and is often riddled with glitches. We found ourselves on multiple occasions completely unable to execute a parry, leading to unnecessary – and frustrating – deaths. This issue eases a bit as you progress and purchase more powerful weapons from vendors scattered throughout the land.
Thankfully, though, a large part of the gameplay is focused on Ary’s ability to switch the world’s seasons, and this is far more impressive. By tapping down on the D-pad, Ary can create a dome that stretches out across the land, flipping the season to whatever is immediately opposite. This means that lakes immediately freeze over, allowing you to safely cross, and enemies turn into frozen blocks that you can push around and use to climb high ledges. It’s really well done and isn’t something we’ve come across that much before.
We’ve mentioned Zelda a couple of times here, but it wouldn’t be fair to go into this game expecting the same level of polish and finesse. The graphics are average at best and don’t look anywhere near as good as its PS4/Xbox One counterpart, and the number of bugs becomes a bit exasperating after a while. Regardless, Ary and the Secret of Seasons makes up for this with a well-told story, a fantastic gameplay mechanic centred around seasons, and a well-realised world filled with unique characters. It’s not a game we’d urge you to rush out and purchase immediately, but if you’re after an action-adventure fix, you could do a lot worse.