Communication is key to any long-lasting relationship, whether it’s platonic or romantic. These lines of communication are often difficult when you are apart from loved ones, especially in a long-distance romantic relationship. On top of this, there is so much negative discourse surrounding long-distance relationships and A Fold Apart is a welcome breath of fresh air.
A Fold Apart is a puzzle platformer game that walks you through a couple’s journey as they enter into a long-distance relationship. Using an extremely unique form of puzzle-solving, you play as a teacher and an architect. The architect moves away from their idyllic country setting to the big city to complete an ambitious and life-changing project.
The game gives you the option to choose between four different couples. A cis-gendered heterosexual couple (colour-coded as male, blue and female, red) a lesbian female couple, a gay male couple and another cis-gendered couple that are colour-coded the opposite to the first couple. Giving you the choice to play as a couple that represents you. This is such an important element to have in a game like this, representation is so important, but especially when creating an emotional experience that A Fold Apart aims to achieve.
Each chapter, you play as each member of the couple as they go about their day communicating to their other half via text message. I find this element to be the most successful in driving the point about communication home. There are so many instances where a message is read, it’s taken in the wrong way and things are over analysed. The game represents this feeling so well; I only speak for myself here but I m very guilty of reading into things in messages too much and I felt the writers of this game did an incredible job of making it seem so relatable and realistic.
Each time a message triggers these feelings of insecurity and doubt, you get thrown into a puzzle. These puzzles involve folding a piece of paper that the character is on, in order to reach a gold star which allows you to progress. It sounds relatively simple, on paper (pun absolutely intended), however, the reality is actually rather tricky. It took me a lot of flipping the page, folding everything in sight, but when I eventually got there, these puzzles are so satisfying to complete.
The puzzles don’t get stagnant either as with each chapter, new mechanics are introduced, giving you the ability to fold the sides and the corners, flip the page, rotate the page. This resulted in possibly the most engaging and taxing puzzle game I have played for a long time.
Although I did like the whimsical art style of the game, there were times where I felt like the internal monologue of the characters that popped up across the screen a little jarring. Whilst I understand that this is necessary to the narrative, I felt that it was slightly ‘on-the-nose’ in parts; and possibly could have benefitted from an element of ‘show don’t tell’. On top of this, I really didn’t like the fonts chosen, they didn’t fit with the aesthetic of the game. I know this may sound nit-picky but I am a strong advocate for a good font!
Whilst the aesthetic was lovely, I would have liked more nods to the fact that the puzzles of the game revolve entirely around the use of a sheet paper, there is a distinct lack of that theme throughout the rest of the game. I would have loved to see some origami buildings and trees in the backdrop of the levels, it would have added a nice touch.
Overall, A Fold Apart does a great job exploring the difficulties of long-distance relationships without being filled doom and gloom, it does get emotional in parts, but its message is a clear and positive one, focused on the importance of communication. Whilst I think there are some elements that could be improved upon and polished, A Fold Apart is a lovely puzzle game with plenty of challenges.
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