In fact, no place could be more perfect than Land Valdi, where Ary and the Secret of Seasons is set. Different seasons and vegetation zones exist side by side, the evil magician who threatened the land infinitely many years ago was defeated and locked in the cathedral of the seasons. As a result, a covenant of four guards was formed, each with the power of one season and with this one protecting the prison. The protection order has become a traditional thing over the years, in which the guardian title was passed on to the sons, women are explicitly excluded. And then suddenly Ary appears, who wants to take on the newly emerging threat of an unknown higher power with her father's guardianship. If that works out? We took a close look at the game that was released for the PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch.
Source: PC Games
Story with a hint of emancipation
Aryelle, short for Ary, lives with her parents in a stylish house in the town of Yule. Actually, Ary's brother Flynn still lives with them, but he disappeared during the guard training and was pronounced dead. This plunges Ary's father, Guardian of Winter, into a deep hole. He appears to be depressed and doesn't play a particular role during the story either. Ary's mother is there for her daughter, even if she is not always enthusiastic about the ideas of her offspring.
When Ary is surprised by hyenas on the way to the market square, who are carrying the sword of their brother, who was believed dead, and she doubts her brother's death. However, she cannot think about it for long, because suddenly the seasons in Yule go crazy. Instead of an icy winter, the residents now have to deal with summer temperatures. In order to get to the bottom of the chaos and the disappearance of her brother, she decides that her father is unable to take on the role of the winter watchman and is the first woman to attend the meeting of the watchman's union. To do this, she snatches the winter crystal that is hidden in the basement of her house. When she arrives at the cathedral, she discovers that the Guardian Association has declared the glorious days to be the rum-rich days (ok, juice is talked about in the game, but why are the guards so funny?). After a halfway degenerate drink, the guards of spring, summer and autumn find that their crystals have disappeared and have been stolen by a mysterious black figure. They eye the little girl skeptically that the line of tradition is breaking. But you have no choice but to search for the crystals. In doing so, Ary uncovered a cunning intrigue.
In terms of the story, Ary is totally convincing. As the first guardian, she is initially met with skepticism because she is too young and then still female. However, this skepticism turns into acceptance and respect, even if in some places one would have liked more references to their special role.
In the course of our journey we also discover some side quests, the content of which ranges from classic collecting quests to bring-me-painting quests. They are not particularly time-consuming, which means that the main quest does not fall by the wayside. Chests found en route contain coins that are used to purchase new clothing, character upgrades, or new weapons. Unfortunately, weapons and clothing only have a creative use.
Source: PC Games
The characters are very well written. Their appearance is similar to the more recent Walt Disney films. But not only there is a reference to Disney: Similar to Elsa from "The Ice Queen", Aryelle (another interesting Disney reference) can conjure up snow and, in certain places, ice at the push of a button with her father's winter crystal. In addition, a sphere arises around her, the center of which she is.
In the course of the game she gains the ability to use other seasons. These are fundamentally important for the gameplay of the adventure. This is because opponents who have an ice sheet, for example, and are thus immune to their winter sphere must be weakened. The puzzles are also solved with the help of the spheres by summoning blocks of ice to overcome obstacles, conjuring up plants with the help of spring, removing water by magic and dragging objects back and forth.
Source: PC Games
The creation of the spheres is easy. When using it, however, there are a few things to consider: The sphere is limited, only small bubbles appear in which the respective season appears. You can only get bigger with the help of monoliths, on which the sphere can be created. This increases the radius. In addition, several Seasons Spheres can run at the same time, but only one bubble per season can run at the same time. The spheres cannot overlap either, because then the previous sphere dissolves. This requires a bit of brainpower to solve the puzzles.
The fights with the opponents, who mostly consist of hyenas, raccoons and other animal and plant species, are not particularly demanding. Occasionally it happens that the opponents don't attack you at all, even though you are standing in front of them. If you're too lazy to go into battle anyway, you can just walk through it. After a short time, the opponents stop chasing Ary. In large numbers, Ary's enemies can quickly become dangerous. But dying is not bad, you reappear near your opponent shortly afterwards and can start all over again. This is a little different in boss fights, because the boss opponent's life bar does not fill up again after his own death. The level of frustration remains low. If you want it a little more challenging, you can increase the level of difficulty in the options.
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What the hell can autumn do?
In the course of the game, as I said, we learn about all the seasons and their abilities. For example, spring is helpful in making the water that is present disappear. Only in autumn is it difficult to find a reason to exist in the game. It just starts to rain and therefore acts like an "emergency sphere" in which the developers have run out of ideas and which is used far too rarely. Because only occasionally are all seasons needed at the same time. In addition, some skills are only useful for a single boss fight and then disappear into insignificance.
The sudden appearance of the ability of fall and spring during the game is a turning point from good game to rather mediocre game. There is no explanation of what functions these two seasons have, so it is only found out by chance. Another negative point is the map. This is quite large and diverse for an action adventure, but it no longer shows the quest marker on some missions. So you mess around and solve puzzles until at some point you don't know what to do, only to come back because you think you are on the wrong path.
Good music, poor subtitles, poor translation
The music from Ary and the Secret of Seasons adds to the atmosphere of the game. Unfortunately Ary and the Secret of Seasons is not completely set to music. All conversations that do not take place in cutscenes are placed in legible boxes. Players who do not like to read (German) subtitles and do not have a good command of English will probably avoid the adventure, because unfortunately it does not have a German setting. The translation is inadequate in some places and German subtitles have been partially omitted. This is a real shame, especially with the character Dagdann, the guardian of summer, as he pulls out a joke or two that is unfortunately not subtitled. The English setting is good for that. There is even a child-friendly cursing ("Son of a cow!").
Source: PC Games
Unfortunately, the loading times are a little too long, which result from changing areas. As far as bugs are concerned, Ary and the Secret of Seasons has the entire repertoire of bugs in store (apart from game crashes). In our test runs, for example, the boss opponent blew up and was unreachable. The only thing that helps is reloading the score, which by the way does not lead to a precise respawn at the same point. It is possible in some places to go through walls, fall through objects, and get stuck somewhere with Ary. In terms of display, some errors crept into the final game. In between, Ary's scar simply disappears from her face, the hair is suddenly long again and the hats that are removed can still be seen in cutscenes. However, in order to really enjoy the game, the developers should definitely fix the bugs in upcoming patches. Because without bugs, Ary and the Secret of Seasons would be an outstanding game.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons (without wanting to take away too much) has left a lot open in terms of storytelling. That calls for a second part, but whether there will really be a successor remains to be seen.
Oh, Ary! If only you would be flawless …
Ary and the Secret of Seasons has everything a great adventure game needs: a good story, great characters, no repetitive puzzles and an innovative game idea … BUT it has to struggle with an unbelievable number of bugs. Without the bugs, the game would have been rated one or two points better. If the bugs are patched in two to three months, I can only warmly recommend buying the indie action adventure. Anyone who wants to slip into the role of Ary now should be able to come to terms with bugs.
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