Ary and the Secret of Seasons Hands-on Impressions

The greatest adventures have small beginnings.

Well-crafted, gorgeous-looking, and emotionally-pleasing indie games are always a breath of fresh air in the gaming world. Many have considered our generation to be the “golden age of indie” due to the multiple impressive indie games that have been coming out over the past few years. Ary and the Secret of Seasons will most definitely help strengthen that statement.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons begins with our titular character narrating an epic story to a stuffed, inanimate toy. She tells a story of this great adventure, revolving around an epic battle between forces of good and evil; for the good of Valdi, the world this game is set in. And just when her story ends, she gets cut off by her Mom off-screen who yells at her to come downstairs.

Somehow, this intro is exactly what this game feels like. It promises an epic adventure but it never pushes too far and takes itself too seriously. This game tells you that you’re about to embark on an epic adventure and it promises a compelling narrative but it’s also aware of its cutesy nature and doesn’t shy away from it.

The very thing that drives Ary to go off on this amazing quest is family. She must become the Guardian of Winter, like her father before her, and she must do so for the sake of family—and later, for the rest of the world. There’s a sense of childish naivete to her character, which is fitting as she is a child, but there’s also an essence of ingenuity about her. From the get-go, you will fall in love with the character you’re controlling and her sharp wits and humor will surely make you chuckle every once in a while, and her sense of childlike decency will make you want to protect her as you would a younger sibling.

The game’s visuals is exactly what you’d expect from a game like this. It’s colorful, vibrant, and lovely. Everything is made to look gorgeous and full of life. Character designs are also worth just staring at for a few moments. This is one of those games that reminds you of the PS2 era while looking a little healthier to match the indie games of this generation.

Another noteworthy aspect of the game is its score. The game’s music is perfect for this atmosphere and art style. It’s delightful when it should be, and epic when the game calls for it.

Finally, the gameplay itself. Let’s discuss the combat mechanics first.

You are able to control the seasons not only to fight off enemies but also to traverse the world. You will need to know which element to use to solve certain puzzles and which to use for different types of enemies. You’ll face a wide variety of enemies. Some attack you exclusively with melee, some are range-types. You’ll need to approach each enemy accordingly. The game doesn’t reward you if you treat this like a hack-and-slash. You’ll need to assess when to move in to attack, and when to take a breather to parry. You do need a few moments to get a hang of the game’s parry system, but once you get it right to the nail, you’ll have more fun than worries. All-in-all, the fluidity of the gameplay isn’t compromised for one bit. How you fight and move about the world is smooth and fulfilling.

You’ll see the game incorporating a little platforming element every once in a while, where you’ll have to jump carefully from one platform to the other. One little misstep and down you go. This area of the game could use a little tidying up, as controls can get extremely wonky when you try to balance yourself as you attempt to land on a platform. Sometimes, a platform is just a tad too high to reach and you’ll need to be able to jump and double jump at the perfect timing to get it right.

The game’s puzzle elements are not one of those things that sound good on paper but fail to deliver in action. The puzzles in the game are just the right amount of challenging and satisfying. It’s not too easy that you’re spoon-fed the solution to every puzzle, and it’s fulfilling enough that you need to dedicate a proper amount of strategizing to get through a hurdle. Some puzzles are a little more tedious than others. You’ll need to know which element to use, which obstacles to move, which elements to use to create a specific obstacle to move, to get from point A to point B. Every puzzle you’ll encounter vary in difficulty, but all of them are incredibly gratifying.

With all of that said, Modus Games, Fishing Cactus, and eXiin did a phenomenal job with this game. The game has a lot of questions that still need to be answered. For that, I’ll have to wait for the full release. Until then, I can say I had a ton of fun playing a preview of this game, and I cannot wait for more.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons comes out next month on September 1 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.