Arise: A Simple Story Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox One and PC
Ever since I laid my eyes on Arise, back in September's PlayStation State of Play, I fell in love with its cute art style and its chilled demeanour. It had beautiful graphics, lovely environments and it was all set against an elegant soundtrack. I love games that are different, touching and beautiful, Arise certainly seems to tick all these boxes and more.
Your character awakens just after his death in some sort of snowy limbo and over the course of ten levels, each telling a different story, you are treated to a very heartfelt tale. The game is primarily a platformer but with one great feature that makes it stand out against other indie titles of this type.
Using the right analog stick you can take control of time itself, this has many uses throughout the game and makes for some interesting platforming and light puzzle scenarios. Whether it was raising and lowering water levels, changing sunflower directions with the sun or controlling lightning, the system is fun and very well implemented. It also gets built upon in new ways in later levels in ways I will not spoil for you.
Each level plays out roughly the same, albeit within a different environment and with separate problems to solve. In each level you must complete a mini-story to progress on to the next, the game is mainly a platformer and your time-bending abilities will be tested in various ways. There are collectable memories to find, which take the shape of pencil drawings and are often hidden well off the beaten path.
There is a lot of trial and error to each stage as you work out what adjusting the time actually does. It is delightful to do so and the system is implemented very well. You never struggle to find where to go next and it is enjoyable trying to find the hidden memories tucked away, whether you use time manipulation to reach new areas or move environmental objects around to find new paths, it is truly rewarding to explore each self-contained ecosystem.
There were a few issues I had, albeit small ones. I would have liked a rotatable camera to help my traversal of the 3D platforming objects in the game. I fell to my death more than I should do due to not being able to judge where I was jumping. The platforming did get frustrating at times mainly for this reason, not very often but enough for me to write about it. However, these are only small gripes and did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the game in any way.
This title does include a local multiplayer mode where the second player controls the time of day independently from the primary player. It's fun to try out but I felt the game was supposed to be played alone. Shouting at your teammate to move an object back so you can jump on it takes something away from the tranquillity and calmness to the title that I think is meant to be enjoyed.
Arise is simply stunning to look at, it is bold, crisp, colourful and extremely beautiful. It's the same with the animations, everything looks amazing, feels nice and moves so smoothly. The lighting effects, especially when playing around with time manipulation, look great. Seeing the light move through flora and other environmental objects creates some nice visual effects, as do the moving shadows. The whole presentation is to die for.
The soundtrack that accompanies this stunning title also fits the bill, the soothing piano melodies wander through each stage and really bring out the emotion of the game superbly. The music really fits the style and theme of the game and they go hand in hand to create a really emotional and well-structured title that hits the right notes, emotionally, visually and musically. Arise is well-made in just about every way.