An old man comes to the end of his life cycle, but something happens: he wakes up again in the hereafter. In Arise: A Simple Story we will travel through the crucial stages of this man while solving puzzles manipulating time as we please.
You may Arise: A Simple Story takes this “simple” in the title, but the work of Piccolo Studios is nothing simple. It is, instead, an example of video game design. One of those works that know how to take advantage of its strengths, which does not fall in the easy path of repetition nor does it try to offer more than it can afford. It is in that fine balance that Piccolo has known how to thread his needle, building one of the biggest independent surprises of the year.
Arise’s system is not new, but not much has been explored as it is presented. Remember that The Gardens Between, in which by rewinding back and forth, we must solve the puzzles. Arise takes him further, to a more open stage, where we have to project our ingenuity to know how to read the situations and set the stage in a way that allows us to continue moving forward. And the game cheats. What is a couple of initial chapters may seem, again, too simple, is becoming complex and attractive. He never takes his puzzles to an extreme challenge, but neither does he need it to captivate the player in the process.
The trick to getting so much and so good your attention is simple. Arise flees from repetition. It maintains the time rewind system but changes its mechanics in each of the ten levels of the game. Sometimes, we will have to stop it completely, at other times, we can slide through air currents or manipulate the stage at our convenience. Thus, it always stays fresh. Every time you finish one of your levels you want to start the next one because you know something new is coming.
It is one of the biggest independent surprises of the year.
It is true that not all levels offer the same appeal, with some that stand out visually and complexity and others that seem somewhat more transitive. Perhaps the one that has impressed me the most is the third of them: a huge cannon in the middle of the earthquake, in which we will have to manipulate time from back to front and stop it at the right time to find our way. But although some are more inspired, this approach that constantly seeks to offer something new to the player is the one that manages to capture and maintain their attention at all times.
Although Arise: A Simple Story is a great puzzle and platform video game, I think it is aware of its limitations, such as the lack of precision in control and, above all, in jumps, which is the most important thing. On many occasions it has cost me more than the account to make the simplest jumps, either because of the camera’s perspective or because the movement of our protagonist is too slow or takes time to perform the actions. And I say he is aware because he places a checkpoint very close to the fault. It is a valid solution, but some challenge remains and they could have been tighter with more precise control, which brings you closer to that long-awaited game feelWho seeks every work. That, yes, the challenge focuses more on the puzzle part than on the skill with the jumps, with the occasional secondary path, where to find the different illustrations that, as collectibles, camouflage an added puzzle and clarify a little more the memory of every vital moment of our character.
Arise, a simple life
It is, therefore, in the design of levels and in the way of bashing this trip where Piccolo is right. The subtitle of the game says clearly that it is a simple story, and maybe it is. Arise tells of an elderly man who dies, so that each of the ten levels of the game takes place in the hereafter, assuming a review of the life of someone who was born, grew and loved. It may, accustomed to the fact that video games always seem to require complex and epic stories, that Arise’s is then simple, but it is nothing more than life itself, with its peak moments and also the low ones.
It is not, then, its simplicity, but the way in which the story is told to us, with a muted tone that expresses more than words. Piccolo does not paternalize with the message or want to cover more than it is possible to know about the mystery that is death itself, but it does use very good symbolic and interpretable elements that resonate better with the player and I prefer not to give examples so that each one discovers them for himself. In addition, all levels are a true delight of color and composition, always accompanied by successful melodies that emphasize each stage of the life cycle of our protagonist.
All levels are a true delight of color and composition.
I don’t think Arise has anything simple. What Barcelona’s studio has achieved here is not easy, combining elegantly everything that makes up a good video game. He knows when a mechanic has exploded well and should take you to another that feels fresh. He manages with ease this “life beyond life” attending to the primary emotions of the human condition and even knows when to stop, being aware that the system does not give more of itself or need to extend the experience to fulfill a quota of hours. Piccolo has not given stitch without thread and, therefore, has achieved an intelligent work and a sample, simple but effective, of videogame design.
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Arise: A Simple Story has been a surprise. Its ingenious design that allows us to manipulate time remains agile and fresh since it refuses to repeat mechanics in each of its ten levels, while the story is simple, yes, but it reaches the heart. You need some polishing in the control, which is not the most accurate especially in the jumps and can be frustrating. But it is easy to forgive him when the experience is so emotional and ingenious. A great example of design.
- An ingenious time manipulation system to create your puzzles.
- Its mechanics are always renewed in each of the 10 levels.
- The story may seem simple, but it is emotional and symbolic.
- Lack of precision in the control and, above all, in the jumps.
- Some levels are not as inspired as others, although it always remains interesting.