Arise: A Simple Story: Test of the likeable indie platformer

Who has turned the clock? As the actual phenomenon of the first 2000s, time manipulation in video games seems to have been in vogue again at the latest since the announcement of the LOL branch Con / Vrgence. Also in the new Jump & Run by the Spanish development team Piccolo Studio, the puzzle passages can only be mastered by stepping into time.

Not the end, but the beginning

<img src = "" alt = "A life after death? This question arises directly in the first minutes of the game and forms the starting point of the action.
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Afterlife? This question arises directly in the first few minutes of the game and forms the starting point of the action.

Source: PC Games

An old man, dead, laid out on a steep hill; around him a group of Stone Age people; one of the mourners present lights the body with a torch. The first seconds of Arise: A Simple Story lead us to what is probably the most difficult part of a human life. But this funeral scene is not, as one might assume, the end of a story. No, in Arise it marks the beginning of an upcoming adventure. Arise tells, as the title suggests, the simple yet profound story of an old man who goes through the stages of his life again after death. In individual sections the player is taken by the hand, about the ups and downs, about beautiful and tragic moments in the life of the nameless and bit by bit sucked into his emotional world.

After his death, our protagonist finds himself in a snowy mountain landscape. Awakened by a disembodied whisper "Arise!", The only spoken word in the game, our character rises from the powder snow to take the first steps in life afterwards. After a few meters we stop at a circled monument. It is one of the old man's many memories. When he reviews this long-forgotten passage, we suddenly find ourselves in another world, a world from before. Arise's atmosphere is melancholic and unique, and you can feel it in the first few minutes of the game.

A slightly different jump & run

<img src = "" alt = "Acrobatic inlays and other tricky passages close Arise a varied adventure.
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Acrobatic inlays and other tricky passages make Arise a varied adventure.

Source: PC Games

The creators of the adventure go some unusual ways. The first thing that catches the eye is the choice of the protagonist, who is no longer the youngest. As they say themselves, they wanted to distance themselves from the common cliché of young, fit Jump & Run heroes and evoke an unfamiliar feeling with an aged hero. Although a few bones crack every now and then, the gentle bear is anything but clumsy! A clearly unusual talent of the old man is also the hallmark of Arise: the time influence. After his death, the character discovers its ability to manipulate the flow of events. We not only jump over hill and dale and climb steep rock faces, but also control the time with the right analog stick. In this way we can displace masses of water and intercept fallen tree trunks or falling rocks so that we can safely pass through plains and paths.

<img src = "" alt = "Where there is light, there is also Shade: Later, not only do the puzzles become nastier, but the protagonist's worlds of memory become darker.
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Where there is light, there is also shadow: later on, not only the puzzles become nastier, but the protagonist's worlds of memory become darker.

Source: PC Games

You can fast forward and rewind the timing at any time without restrictions, and even freeze it later. Depending on the level, the skipped intervals sometimes only span a few hours, sometimes several months. Sometimes our actions only slightly change the arrangements in the environment, sometimes we hardly recognize a section after a time manipulation. At the beginning the puzzles are very self-explanatory, but later the level of difficulty increases. Playing with time feels very dynamic and lets you use the similarly functioning feature from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time recall. It is these and similar environmental puzzles that we spend a good deal of the time with. There are no real opponents for this in Arise (apart from a few dark shadows).

Even far away from the exciting game mechanics, you can tell the makers the passion with which they have worked on their heart project. The old man's threshold is thrilling not only because of the touching story and the time manipulations. The world we move through is also beautiful and brimming with atmosphere. Among other things, the sparingly used displays on the screen, the smart world building and the really impressive color and light effects ensure perfect immersion.

<img src = "" alt = "Sometimes you forget that Arise is also a Jump & Run is, and not only once have we been amazed by the impressive worlds and the pretty look.
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Sometimes you forget that Arise is also a jump & run. The impressive worlds and the beautiful optics have amazed us not only once.

Source: PC Games

Stylistically, the low-poly design fits well with the dreamy look of the worlds and occasionally recalls the look of the 2018 soul-like Ashen. The absolute highlight in terms of presentation is the background music, which was written by the award-winning sound designer David Garcia. He also made the soundtrack of the 2017 indie hit Rime. Optics and music intertwine perfectly and are likely to trigger goosebumps in a few moments, even with the toughest veteran gamblers.

There is not much to nag about Arise. We missed more reasons to explore the surrounding world. There are some alternative routes and hidden locations in the individual levels. But since there is only one type of collectible, which also has little added value, you quickly lose the desire to deviate from the primary path. The replay value of the eight-hour short adventure is also limited. In addition, despite the basically intuitive controls, some Jump & Run insoles do not run smoothly. On the one hand, this is due to the white giant's not quite fluid to choppy animations, and on the other hand, the annoying camera perspectives. The latter favor wonderful tracking shots and cinematic views, but lead to considerable problems with some skill passages. Distances between platforms are often difficult to estimate and (deadly) abysses are quickly overlooked. Only trial and error can help. Despite these small inconsistencies, there is hardly any frustration in the game.
So with Arise: A Simple Story, you definitely get a valuable indie one-off piece that knows how to convince with an emotional story and exciting gameplay.

Arise: A Simple Story (PS4)

Lovingly told story
Thoughtful gameplay
Great soundtrack
Nice level design
Demanding puzzles
Uninteresting collectibles
Stubborn camera
Some wooden animations

Nice little exception that literally lets time fly by