I wish I could say Ary and the Secret of Seasons is a charming and fun action-adventure game with fun puzzles, engaging combat, and lovable characters. I would like to say the graphics are beautiful and smooth and that the game runs like a dream. However, I can’t do that. And it’s unfortunate.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons follows the story of a young hero, Ary. With her father, the guardian of winter, out of commission and her brother, the recognized predecessor, presumed dead, it’s up to Ary to harness the power of the seasons and restore order to the world of Valdi. Valdi is home to four distinct towns, one for each season, so Ary must journey to each one, gathering the season crystals and defeating villains (and maybe helping some townspeople along the way!)
The game is a mix of puzzle-filled dungeons, combat, and sidequests. Puzzles rely on the use of the seasons, so they can vary greatly from one to the next. This may require using the winter season to find platforms to get to a certain place, then switch to summer to get to certain levers or treasure chests. The puzzles honestly make the game; they provide a challenge, and with the use of seasons thrown in the mix, you can spend a lot of time figuring out your abilities and finding cool ways to apply them.
Unfortunately, the rest of the gameplay isn’t as rewarding. The baddies, including hyenas and wizard raccoons to name a few, are great in design and add a little humor. You almost don’t want to fight them, and I guess that’s a good thing, because there’s no reason to. Fighting enemies while you’re roaming offers no reward. You can run right past them and they don’t chase you. So, if you’re not defeating them to avoid getting mangled, and you’re not defeating them to gain some coin or items…what’s the point? There’s no satisfaction in it.
This lack of satisfaction is found in sidequests, too. There’s little variety in them; most of them boil down to fetch this or collect that. A lot of them don’t even reward you for completing them, and if they do, it’s with the same prize of coins every time (similar to the coins you find in basically every treasure chest hidden around.) I was swimming in gold coins, y’all. I was a regular Scrooge McDuck.
I’m a little wary of talking about all of the bugs in the game. The developers of Ary have already started working on patching them, so it feels a little harsh to harp on them. However, harp on them I will, because they’re frustrating. Some of the smaller bugs include dialogue not being in the chosen language (I played in English and some dialogue was in French) with NPCs having text bubbles above their heads but no dialogue when you interact with them (until you find a different NPC that triggers that NPC’s dialogue).
However, more devastating glitches include soft-locks during boss battles that require you to reload the game, which may not fix the issue the first few times, and enemies being completely invisible in certain places until the game is reloaded. These things are annoying, frustrating, and really take the fun out of the game.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons had great potential to be a fun game, but squandered it on poor combat and sidequesting, as well as numerous glitches and bugs. This isn’t to say the game lacks any redeeming features – there’s a lot going for it! The writing is witty and amusing, the characters are interesting and lovable, and the plot is engaging. The art design is nice and simple, giving off a youthful and fun vibe. The dungeons are fun to play and did I mention how good the puzzles were? It may be worth revisiting when it’s cleaned up and able to function. For now, the negatives outweigh the positives in this unpolished misadventure.