Arise: A Simple Story Review
Arise: A Simple Story is a cinematic experience filled with the happy and bittersweet memories of an old man who dies and is able to look back on his life journey of love and loss. An interactive tale where every action you take has meaning, Arise is the embodiment of living for the journey and not being too focused on the destination. Arise is an incredible story with very human emotions and a well-written narrative, and it’s a great reminder that video games can be a combination of fun, creative, artistic, and meaningful.
Life Is A Journey
As the opening scene slowly leads from the death of our protagonist to the recollections of his life, we are first placed into the past where we experience the innocence of two children and watch their love blossom. Playing as the old man himself, we roam colorful lands as we come across pivotal moments of his life while trying to figure out ways to help him discover his lost memories. The scenery changes for each chapter of his life, the story progresses at our own pace, and everything is frozen in time until we want to move forward. Despite new challenges coming our way, the path is fairly linear and we will always be able to learn new techniques and apply what we learned from an earlier chapter.
A simple platformer with intuitive puzzles to solve, Arise is an adventure game where the goal is to explore and enjoy the story. Complete with an emotional soundtrack and beautiful visuals, we run across lush green fields and climb up mountains to reach our next destination, all while playful and sometimes sorrowful tunes accompany your journey. There are many different obstacles thrown at you but it is never challenging to the point where you feel frustrated. Each path you complete will bring you to a short scene where the old man reminisces about his past, and we start to catch glimpses of his life through these snippets as the game progresses.
The controls are very easy but can be tough to figure out at first; although this is naturally overcome once you realize what the on-screen tutorial is trying to tell you. There are no written instructions so a lot of the times you will have to experiment with what the game is trying to ask of you. The great thing about this is once you’ve understood what you were meant to do, it will always be that easy to carry out. The game is very forgiving and each misstep you take brings you back to a very close checkpoint. As simple as the game is, there are still some parts that require some thinking and experimenting, but no matter how many times you fail you are always very quickly brought back. There are parts where the camera angle can play slight tricks on your eyes, causing you to over or underestimate your path. This is due to a lack of control on camera angles, but once you are used to the current view it isn’t too difficult to calibrate your movement to suit the scene.
One of the enjoyable features of Arise is the player’s ability to control time. Not only is it symbolic of how the player should feel at that moment, but it is also important to understand how and when to manipulate time to your advantage. There are parts of the game where we can change from one season to the next, but there are also parts where we can only control mere seconds. In some moments, time will keep moving forward but you have the ability to stop it from doing so. Through this, the player is able to understand how the old man felt at that time – for instance, time flies by when you’re having fun, but time can also be agonizing and slow. Time is also important in creating platforming paths, such as melting icy glaciers to reveal hidden stepping stones, freezing time so you could walk across tree logs before they fall off cliffs, or latching on to bees that are passing by so that you may move easily from one location to the next. The variety of time manipulation techniques is plentiful, and it gives the players a new challenge in each chapter and a chance to understand the story a little better.
Arise is an incredibly powerful story despite it being so simple. It invokes emotions that I would rarely bring with me when playing a video game, and it is refreshing to know that there is a game out there focused on bringing us a heartwarming experience. There are so many elements in the game that work well together, from the color palette, lighting, music, gameplay, and ease of controls. Even without much dialogue or long, extensive cutscenes, Arise is able to tell us a simple story that is vibrant and rich, bringing us an unforgettable and emotional experience.
***PS4 review code provided by the publisher.***
- Heartwarming story
- Creative gameplay
- Soft, vivid visuals with emotional music
- Controls could be explained better
- Tricky camera angles