Ary and the Secret of Seasons Gamescom 2019 Preview – Seasonal Action Adventure
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is, in many ways, a very typical action-adventure game. You play as a young girl, explore several large environments, fight against a variety of enemies both small and large, and defeat an evil force. But Ary stands out in a number of ways. Yes, the visuals are charming and beautiful, and the artwork for the game is equally outstanding, but what interested and enticed me the most when I saw the game in action at Gamescom 2019 was the seasons.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is a game which evokes memories of many before it. The small protagonist and the bright saturated world both remind of RiME, while the combat and puzzle-solving elements hark to likes of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. But in execution, Ary is more than the sum of its parts, and its elements come together to create something more than just the sum of its inspirations.
You play as Ary, or Aryelle, as you explore the world of Valdi and seek to rid it of evil and become the Guardian of Winter. Long ago an evil mage was defeated by a Legendary Warrior and sealed away by four sages, the Guardians of Seasons. If this sounds like a Zelda plot to you, then you're not alone, for Ary wears its inspirations on its sleeve. Now evil is returning to the land, and it's up to Aryelle to rise to the challenge and become the Guardian of Winter so she may return the land to peace.
The game has some gorgeous environments, complete with crisp swaying grass, lush waterfalls, and beautiful vistas. But the way you interact with, and change, these environments is the real draw here. The game is called Ary and the Secret of Seasons because you will be using seasonal abilities to change the world. Say you wish to cross a raging river, you can create a bubble of winter which expands and turns everything within the bubble into a winter wonderland, freezing the river in its place. Leaves will drop from trees, grass will glisten with frost, and most importantly, new paths will open.
Using your season abilities you will be able to change entire landscapes, shifting environments between the seasons to open up new pathways and discover secrets. It's like the Click-Clock-Wood level in Banjo-Kazooie which featured four seasonal environments that interact, only far more dynamic since you can activate and play with the seasons at your leisure.
But this game isn't just for exploration and playing with the weather, it's also a fully-fledged action game, and you'll be beating down all manner of enemies, from cheeky howling hyenas to fearsome and ferocious boss monsters, many times your size. There's a fairly basic action combat system at play, complete with dodges and fast attacks, which will feel familiar to most people who have played The Legend of Zelda or any recent action RPG, including the likes of The Witcher 3 and Dark Souls. I watched as Ary fought a giant bird monster, which swooped and attacked like a griffin in The Witcher 3, combined with the friendly art style and relative simplicity of The Wind Waker.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is doing a lot right, and my early impressions were incredibly positive, and I have only felt more positive about the game after seeing more trailers and game footage. It feels like the personality and tone of A Hat In Time, the exploration and visuals of RiME, combined with the combat of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Whether or not it manages to stand up against a Zelda game remains to be seen, but as of right now Ary and the Secret of Seasons looks like one of the most exciting upcoming indie titles. It's coming to Nintendo Switch, too (the scheduled release window is Q1 2020).