Ary and the Secret of Seasons
Indie – Game – Review
Indie Game: Ary and the Secret of Seasons
Developed By: eXiin, Fishing Cactus, Modus Games
Date Released: 1 September 2020
Date Played: 4 October 2020
Play Time: 18 Hours
Available on: PC | PS4 | Xbox One | Nintendo Switch
I received a copy of Ary and the Secret of Seasons in collaboration with our podcast episode with Ary’s Lead Writer, Genese Davis, and Game Director, Seb.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is an adventure game following Ary on a quest to restore the seasons of Valdi after an evil mage threw them into disarray. Ary’s ability to manipulate the seasons is fun, powerful, and gives so many hours of interactive gameplay.
Developed by eXiin and Fishing Cactus and published by Modius Games, Ary is an absolute delight. The writing, from lead writer Genese Davis, is amazing, hilarious, and captivating.
I loved everything (literally everything) about this game. And, I’m proud to say, I only got lost once. Sure, it was two hours of wandering around, but it was out of my own stupidity, haha.
I can’t wait to sink even more time into Ary and solve ALL the puzzles. I’m definitely getting my achievement whore hat on for this one!
Powerful Environmental Action
Ary takes the very real threat of climate change and creates a powerful, fun story and game. Climate change is real and so damn scary because not enough is being done to help our planet.
I feel like Ary is a look at a world where climate change got so out of control it split the seasons into four distinct parts of the world. And of course, then someone starts messing with the climate again and the whole world goes screwy. Again.
I was getting strong similarities between Ary and The Death Gate Cycle, a 7 book series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, where there are four distinct worlds supported by one of the main elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Air). Like in Ary, these worlds came into existence after some intense environmental destruction coupled with some super evil beings at work.
When you collect diary entries in Ary (which I haven’t managed to collect them all yet – they’re a challenge!), you learn more about what actually transpired to cause Valdi to separate seasons. Long ago, an evil mage threatened Valdi, but was defeated by the Legendary Warrior.
What happened next? Four great sages became the Guardians of Seasons, each having the power to control the weather around them. This organisation is now steeped in legend, mystery, and intrigue.
So Ary, in the stead of her father, becomes the apprentice for the Guardian of Winter. She sets out on a quest to restore the seasons.
Ary is a Feminist ICON
Let’s talk about little Aryelle (it’s Ary, thanks). Ary is experiencing a family torn apart by grief over the disappearance of her brother, Flynn.
Her father, the Guardian of Winter, has fallen into despair, doing nothing but stare at a picture of Flynn all day, every day. When he receives a summons from the Guardians of Seasons, he doesn’t even flinch. Shaaaaame!
Ary decides she HAS to step up and represent the family. She can’t let her family rescind into shame. Ary steals into her brother’s room, that’s been locked since his disappearance, to transform herself into the Guardian of Winter.
She dons Flynn’s clothes, grabs his sword (which she recovered from the evil hyenas that attacked Yule), and cuts her hair, so her long, girly locks let her hide her femininity as she imitates Flynn. It’s not lost on the player that she is often NOT mistaken as Flynn for the duration of the game. (Achievement unlocked: Twinsies!)
This game has such strong woman vibes. You tell Ary no or that she can’t do it? Well, guess what, fellas. Ary is on that shit. And succeeding, you guessed it, where all the men failed.
Outside of Ary, there are other characters who show some incredible growth outside the toxic masculinity they have clearly been indoctrinated to. No spoilers, but you’ll know what I mean when you come across him!
This story is empowering. I wish I was a kid again so I could see myself in Ary even more than I do, now. She’s powerful, resilient, cheeky, and someone who will definitely find her own way to do life.
Ary’s gonna change the world, y’all.
What I love about this feminist storyline is that it’s not written or driven in a way that screams, “THIS IS A FEMINIST AF GAME!” This game is enjoyable, well-written (amazing job, Genese Davis!), hilarious, challenging, and just so happens to have a badass female protagonist.
And, like, no big spoilers here, but I absolutely teared up at the end of the game. Pow-er-ful!
Fun for the Whole Fam
Ary is an adventure game that I honestly believe the entire family would enjoy.
Number one: It’s beautiful. The art style is attractive, unique, and intriguing. I won’t lie, it was one of the biggest reasons I had all the excitement to play this game!
But it’s not just the attractive art. This game has so much.
The gameplay and combat are pretty straightforward and it builds in complication as you go through the story. So there’s no overwhelming amount of buttons you need to press right away. Plus, the combat is super easy: hit, block, dodge. There are a few combos you can do, but the game breaks those down easily the further you go.
Ary takes you on an adventure through Valdi. There are hidden paths, mysterious waterfalls, challenging puzzles (some of which I STILL haven’t solved), and a changing environment to keep you interested for 18+ hours. (The official game time is around 8-10 hours (with an achievement to finish in under 5 hours), but trust me there is a lot to do in Ary!)
Two of my favourite characters outside of Ary:
Ronin. The royal messenger who moonlights as your fast-travel point of contact. His stories are endless and hilarious. I know you’ll love him as much as I do!
Dagdann, the Guardian of Summer. He’s definitely taken part in too many Bacchanalia’s, that’s for sure! He’s hilarious, absent-minded, and loves a good boogie. I laughed out loud so many times he was on the screen and would love an entire movie starring him.
Dagdann’s character is also full of unspoken commentary about living with Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia and I think this is really powerful.
Overall Thoughts on Ary and the Secret of Seasons
Ary and the Secret of Seasons is a delightful adventure game I think everyone should give a go at some point, if you’re into adventures and puzzles.
The characters are delightful and relatable. The gameplay is super enjoyable. And, let’s just take a second to applaud the game devs for creating multiple season overlays you can control at the tap of a button. That is INCREDIBLE talent, dedication, and hard work!
Take some time to fall in love with Ary. It’s worth it!
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