Playing Ary and the Secret Of Seasons feels immediately familiar. Ary’s world of Valdi feels very Disney-esque and her ability to harness the power of the seasons will no doubt remind many of Frozen—though the story itself may have more in common with Mulan. However, in terms of gameplay, Ary and the Secret of Seasons clearly takes inspiration from The Legend of Zelda franchise and even plays like a fully 3D version of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons—a Game Boy Color title which likewise allowed players to control the seasons to transform locations and solve puzzles. Although the game feels so very familiar, Ary and the Secret of Seasons pays homage to its inspirations while proving to stand on its own merit as well.
We were able to try out a preview build of the game on PC thanks to our friends at Turn Left Distribution. The preview build gave us the ability to play the first section of the game, learning the basics of the game’s world and meeting its various colourful and entertaining characters—whilst getting a good idea of how the game plays. It becomes very evident immediately that the world of Valdi is massive in scale and there is a lot to explore here. It is also worth mentioning that the game’s world is simply beautiful. I found myself just stopping for a moment to take in the scenery countless times, before being engaged back into Ary’s compelling story. During this initial-section playthrough, we learn about Ary’s family and the mystery of her brother Flynn—who has gone missing and has been presumed dead.
The characters in Secret of Seasons really shine, with superb voice acting and some rather brilliant writing. The world feels deep and the cast rich with personality. After progressing to the Dome of Seasons, this first section of the preview build wrapped up by leaving me on quite a spicy cliffhanger—establishing the key crisis that will progress the story forwards.
After that, we were able to play the game’s Winter Temple. At this point we had full control of all season abilities, as this Temple is much farther into the game. It becomes clear in this dungeon that there is an immense amount of customisation in terms of weapons and abilities in the game. We got a glimpse of this in the first part of the build, but you don’t really get a chance to earn enough gold to purchase any upgraded items or costume variations at that point. However, the Winter Temple build here immediately blew us away with a glimpse at the sheer multitude of powers and abilities that Ary will come to wield. The combat mechanics are smooth and rewarding, and the platforming segments are reminiscent of classic platformers of the PlayStation 2 era—like Jak and Daxter.
All in all, Ary and the Secret of Seasons looks to be a wild ride. The cast of characters are instantly likeable (particularly our lead Ary) and the gameplay is familiar in the best kinds of ways; if you love PS2-era platformers or the Legend of Zelda series you will not want to miss out on this game (launching on 1st September 2020 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC). The secret is out folks: Ary and the Secret of Seasons looks to be one of 2020’s best games.