Review: A Fold Apart

Developer: Lightning Rod Games

Publisher: Lightning Rod Games

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS

Humans are social creatures, and no matter the circumstances, there is a constant instinctual desire to belong and communicate. The current pandemic that the world finds itself in has highlighted the need to connect, and while technology has certainly helped to feel connected, there is the fact that many families, and their loved ones, find themselves physically apart. The words “Together apart” could not be any more polarizing, and can leave a significant mental strain on people. A Fold Apart, the newest game from Lightning Rod Games, puts players in a true-to-life moment. A couple in love must be apart for work, and while technology does exist, the impact feels real. A Fold Apart invites players to a colorful but heartfelt tale of love on the edges of the planet, and two people who struggle and work hard to stay together while being so far apart. After following A Fold Apart from PAX WEST in Seattle to PAX EAST in Boston, The game has developed an extraordinarily relevant and important tale to tell. 

   A Fold Apart is a puzzle adventure game that focus on the lives of two persons, separated over long-distance. At the start, players choose which relationship they wish to have as Lightning Rod Studios has included several options, including Gay and Lesbian choices. Following this, the game begins, showing one partner remaining home while the other travels a long-distance to complete a dream job. Both partners communicate on their phones, and players can have some choices in dialogue. As they proceed, a sequence begins in which players must progress through a level. Inspired by the art of origami, A Fold Apart presents itself as a fold-able work. To progress through each stage, players fold the level in various ways, connecting paths and obtaining items. Each level presents a new puzzle to complete, but if the puzzle becomes too difficult, a helpful guide shows the correct way to solve the puzzle. 

A Fold Apart is one of the most remarkable puzzle games this year, as its origami mechanic is awe-inspiring and incredibly constructed. The folding paper reveals new and exciting methods to puzzle-solving and platforming that separate A Fold Apart from other game in the genre. A Fold Apart presents itself as a series of postcards on a table, and the level occurs within the postcard. Players move the character along a path of these postcards as they present themselves on the table. To reach certain points, parts of the postcard are highlighted. This highlight allows players to fold and crease sections of the postcard. Players can fold a [post card several times from various directions to achieve the goal. The main goal remains the same in which player s must get the main character across the postcard, but how its done changes over time. Flipping a postcard may cause a step on the other side to fall and allow players to climb a ledge. Some Levels require flipping and folding a postcard repeatedly to allow progress across the postcard. Some puzzle in A Fold Apart are quite difficult, and as such, the hint system is gracious in walking players through a level to better understand it. 

The origami mechanic of A Fold Apart is extraordinary as it underscores the storytelling. The two characters work hard to bring themselves together, and the idea of pulling and folding paper to reach another point is invaluable to that message. Pulling the paper and completing each level underlies that human instinct to connect and belong, even when they physically cannot be together. It’s an extraordinarily clever and profound means to carry a message and a story, and Lightning Rod games should be commended for thinking of such a mechanic, and I encourage others drawing inspiration to follow their example. 

The story in A Fold Apart is equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking, but ultimately endearing. Using a variety of soft, distinct colors and geometry, A Fold Apart is able to emphasize feelings through impactful typography and impactful color. It is easy to pause for a moment at a moment of the game and truly empathize with the characters on screen. Moments of heavy text drive the feelings of sadness and loneliness, but also brightness and happiness.  The story of A Fold Apart was inspired by the store of one of its team members, who experienced a rollercoaster of emotions while maintaining a long-distance relationship. Everything in A Fold Apart feels genuine, as if it could happen in today’s world. 

There isn’t much to fault on A Fold Apart. The game runs smoothly, even on the Nintendo Switch in undocked mode, and the game never had a stability issue. As A Fold Apart is available on other systems, the other versions benefit from sharp, smoother visuals, and shorter load times, but the Switch version is by no means a bad looking or unplayable game. A Fold Apart runs great on the Nintendo Switch

While short. A Fold Apart is an unforgettable journey and a tale of connection in the most adverse of circumstances. Its artistic direction is strong and its gameplay is innovative and well-developed. When I last saw A Fold Apart, it was at a moment in time where lockdowns and empty streets were even thinkable. Perhaps it is by fate that A Fold Apart finds itself in the time that it is in. In a world where apart saving lives, A Fold Apart reminds us that humans, in all of their endearment, can be together, no matter the struggle of the world.

A Fold Apart was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch thanks to a key generously supplied to Stack Up from Evolve PR and terminals.io

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