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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Arise: A Simple Story

Piccolo had to find something in-between just walking to make a story happen and getting stumped or failing repeatedly. The studio threaded the needle. Level design requires you to be fully engaged to think your way through, but easily reveals its requirements as long as you are engaged.

Arise: A Simple Story

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Unravel had a rather sad story of loss, and "Concrete Genie" also has the theme of childhood neglect and social decline, so I guess the answer to the first question "Is a platform game a good medium in which to tell a story of agonising tragedy?", is "Yes".

The co-op enhances the story of Arise and the game is certainly better when playing with a friend, but the co-op's actual implementation does leave something to be desired when it comes to the second player. The second player's role is hugely important in terms of the story and exploring some of the more profound themes in Arise: A Simple Story, but their duties versus the first player are comparatively quite dull. The first player does all the legwork, and yes the second player is manipulating the game world and the environment, but many of the puzzles are so basic that they almost feel like a passive observer at times. There are a few moments in Arise, when enemies are introduced, where the second player has to be more actively engaged with the game, but otherwise they may find themselves quite bored by it.

In terms of sound design and graphics, Arise is a top-tier game that can stand with any other game on the market. These elements and the unique co-op gameplay come together to tell an emotional story that deals with love, loss, death, happiness, and more. Though Arise is a short game that can be completed in just a few hours or less, it still accomplishes more with its narrative than many other games that spend dozens of hours telling their story. Arise may tell a simple story, but it's certainly one worth checking out.

Placed in the shoes of an elderly gentleman, this is a bittersweet tale of his life and the memories he shared with a lover. The man dies at the very beginning of the game and revisits important events that shaped his story in the afterlife, taking the shape of rocky sculptures which become interactable as you draw near. This aspect is what turns the journey into a sombre one -- focused more on the highs before the dread of death starts to creep in.

Thanks to the lack of any voice acting or text, Arise tells its narrative through visual storytelling and smart cues in the environment. It sticks to that tried and true essence of simplicity while still managing to trigger enough of an emotional response that some games could only dream of achieving. With the conclusion of an expiry date already outlined from the very start, this is a trip wholly about the journey which gets you there. It may come across as depressing, but there's enough light at the end of the tunnel to revel in its narrative beauty.

What links those scenes together is rather rudimentary 3D platforming that manages to set itself apart through the implementation of one defining feature. Again, it keeps things simple, but that's the entire point of the experience. You can jump across gaps, swing between ledges through the use of a grappling hook, and scale simple cliff edges with obvious handholds to reach for. You're unlikely to struggle working out which way to head next thanks to its linear nature, although doing so would make for even more time to appreciate what makes the experience unique.

An initial playthrough of the game's 10 levels will last in the region of five to six hours, but the experience doesn't end there. Each and every area comes packed full of sentimental collectables that add colour to the scene they're depicting, making for pick-ups that add more context to the story. They're worthwhile and do enough of a job to stretch the playtime to near enough double figures.

By making a point of keeping things simple, Arise: A Simple Story excels in all the right places. Basic 3D platforming is elevated by the introduction of time manipulation, transforming the beauty of its locations into an interactable piece of art. And when its visual design is already this stunning, it makes for an experience that delights every sense imaginable.

Parents need to know that Arise: A Simple Story is a downloadable adventure for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. The story is a poetic narrative adventure about an old tribal man who is cremated at the game's start and then re-experiences his long, productive life through a series of interactive memories that explore notions of love, family, aging, death, and time. Players see him play as a child, fall in love, and lead his people as they work through fantasy environments filled with symbolism, including a beautiful pink location composed of growing tendrils and blooming flowers meant to represent the conception of a child. There's no combat, though the hero can perish through player mistakes, such as falling too far a distance. It's a fairly straightforward play, though some of the running and jumping segments can prove a little frustrating due to a slightly wonky camera and occasionally tricky controls.

ARISE: A SIMPLE STORY tells the story of an old tribal man in the afterlife. The game begins with his cremation, after which he awakens in a snowy hereafter where he re-experiences the most important moments in his life, from playing as a child, to falling in love with his lifelong partner, to the pair becoming pregnant. These themed levels are based on exploration, and see players running, jumping, climbing, and swinging their way past various obstacles. A key mechanic is the flow of time, which players can move forward or reverse at will with the right thumbstick. For example, moving time forward in a season-themed level will cause snow to melt and flooding to occur, while moving it backward will cause the water to freeze, creating new pathways. In another level, controlling time also controls the movement of animals such as snails and bees that can be used as platforms and anchor points for a grappling hook to swing between areas. There's no combat -- the primary objective is to learn about the life of the hero, including his personal struggles, responsibilities, and tragedies -- but that doesn't mean there's no danger. Careless and imprecise movement can cause the old man to perish by, say, falling.

While there are quite a few games that have utilized a time manipulation mechanic, I am always intrigued to check out a game that uses it. The idea seems perfect for a video game. Arise: A Simple Story originally came out around two and a half years ago. I unfortunately never checked out the game when it first came out. In theory the game seemed like something that I would really enjoy as it combined time manipulation mechanics with a puzzle platformer. With the game making its Nintendo Switch release today, I decided it was finally time to give the game a chance. Arise: A Simple Story is a short but touching story of love and loss that utilizes an interesting time manipulation mechanic leading to a fun puzzle platforming experience.

On the surface these mechanics are quite simple as you just move forward and backward in time until you find the right time that allows you to progress forward. Despite this, it is a crucial element of the game. The game utilizes the mechanic really well as it is more than an afterthought. Figuring out the right time is as important as timing your jump correctly.

I was intrigued by Arise: A Simple Story for a number of reasons. For the most part I think the game lived up to my expectations. The platforming elements are fun even though the controls could be better at times. Where the game really stands out though is the time manipulation mechanics. Instead of being a gimmick these are a central element of the game. The game utilizes them really well to keep the game fresh and original. The level design, story, and atmosphere are fantastic. The game is on the shorter side though which is partially due to the game being on the easy side.

Manipulate time, solve puzzles, and reshape surroundings as you push forward into the bittersweet recollections of a past life. This is a story about happiness and hardship, joy and sorrow. A story that all of us will one day experience.

Amongst the many items you can manipulate are rocks in a landslide you can freeze to jump on, lily pads floating down a stream that can serve as Frogger-like platforms, and even bees and snails you can hitch a ride on through a giant garden. While the number of things you can influence is impressive, their application is generally straightforward, letting you enjoy the levels and story without being brought to a screeching halt by complex puzzles.

PLAYING TOGETHERInvite a second player to help you control time and enjoy the journey together. The easy to pick-up nature of Arise keeps everyone engaged and lets them experience the emotional story to its fullest.

Arise: A Simple Story is a game about the three Ls. No, not Lemons, Lemons, Lemons (a small joke for RPS Vid Bud fans, there), but life, love, and loss. You know, the BIGGIES. In it, you're reliving the memories of a sweet old man as he journeys on to the after life, taking in everything from the breathless rush of childhood, where you're bounding across giant sunflowers in the wind and hitching rides on the back of bumblebees, to the first blush of romance and the heartache of later life. It is, as its title suggests, not a complicated story, but man alive does it go places.

It's fitting for a game about reliving life's big moments, and it reinforces how we ourselves repeatedly scrub back over moments of importance in our mind while whizzing past others that are less significant. There are also occasions where our bearded hero literally gets swept up by the events at hand, and it's only by jamming the right analogue stick into fast forward that he can reach his next destination. Gameplay and story mechanics, I now pronounce thee man and wife. 041b061a72


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