For a while now I have been a strong proponent for indie video games. It took me a few years to get onto the indie game bandwagon, but at this point I can honestly say that I regularly enjoy indie games more than their AAA counterparts. The main reason I enjoy indie games so much is that indie developers have the freedom to innovate and do things that larger studios would never attempt. As a fan of games that try something new instead of rehashing the same mechanics over and over again I have always found this refreshing. This is exactly what initially intrigued me about A Fold Apart. From the game’s intriguing story and atmosphere to the interesting puzzle mechanics, it seemed like the type of puzzle game that I love. A Fold Apart blends a fantastic story and atmosphere with truly original puzzle mechanics to create one of the more unique video game experiences I have played in years even if that experience ends a little too quickly.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Lightning Rod Games for the review copy of A Fold Apart used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
A Fold Apart is a story about long distance relationships. In the game you play as a teacher and an architect who are in love. They both live in a smaller town and are happy together. Then the architect receives a job offer to build the building of their dreams. The catch is that they must move to a big city far away for the job. As it is a lifelong dream the teacher and architect agree that the job is too good to pass up. Thus their relationship must transform into a long distance relationship. A Fold Apart follows both the teacher and the architect as they try to deal with being separated for long periods of time. Being separated for so long leads to miscommunications and other issues for their relationship. Can their relationship survive or will the distance between them be too much?
While A Fold Apart is a game crafted around its story, at its heart it is a puzzle game. In the game you will take turns playing as the teacher and the architect. The gameplay is broken down into two mechanics. The first mechanic is that you will control one of the characters as they talk with the other character through text messages. This mostly involves just walking left or right as the messages between the two characters pop up on the screen. You will occasionally get to choose between two dialog options. I am not sure if this has any impact on the overall story. I would guess if it has any impact it is minor. Every so often one of the characters will say something in one of their texts that makes the character that you are currently playing as start to question their relationship. This leads to the game’s puzzle mechanic.
All of the puzzles in the game are built around the idea of paper. While walking you will eventually move onto a piece of paper. Each of these pieces of paper are their own puzzles. The goal of each puzzle is to either create a path for the character to reach the other side to continue their journey or reach a star which will extend their current path. As the characters are on a piece of paper you will treat it like a piece of paper. At first you will only be able to fold the paper left and right. As each sheet of paper is double sided you can fold the paper in order to move the platforms from the back of the paper to the front of the paper. As you progress through the game you gather more ways of manipulating the paper which include flipping it over, creasing it from the top/bottom/corners, unfolding creases, and rotating it. You must use all of these abilities together in order to create a path and manipulate the position of your character so they can continue their journey.
I have played a lot of different puzzle games and I can honestly say that I have never played one quite like A Fold Apart. I have always found the idea of building a puzzle game around folding paper to be an interesting idea. There have been a few games in the past that have used folding mechanics, but they feel different as all of the moves are predefined and you can’t make whatever moves you want. That is not the case in A Fold Apart. While playing the game it feels like you are actually folding paper. There are a few minor restrictions on what you can do as you can’t cover up the character. Otherwise you can fold the paper however you want. As you get more abilities it feels even more natural as you can crease along each of the sides as well as the corners.
At first it might seem like the mechanic is kind of simple, but in action it isn’t. There are a lot of things that I liked about A Fold Apart, but this might be the best thing about the game. From the simple idea of folding paper there is a surprising amount that you can do with it. Each new ability opens up new possibilities as you build bridges between different platforms and manipulate both sides in order to get the character to their next destination. Each puzzle that introduces a new mechanic is kind of straightforward, but then the game mixes all of the mechanics together to create some truly creative puzzles. Figuring out how to use all of the mechanics together requires a lot of out of the box thinking.
With how well the mechanics work I am curious why no one has made a game utilizing this type of mechanic before. The controls are really simple and the gameplay is quite straightforward. There are occasional quirks with the controls not always working perfectly, but I attribute that to the fact that the game doesn’t rely on predetermined spots to fold the paper. This is evident in the fact that I encountered a couple instances where I think I solved a puzzle in a way that was not the official solution. The mechanic is just so creative and it works so well. The mechanic is so original that I would love to see more games try to use a similar mechanic. I would love to see a sequel or another game utilizing the same mechanics. I am a big fan of games that try something new and A Fold Apart is easily one of the most creative games that I have played in a long time.
I honestly really only have one complaint with the gameplay. Unfortunately the puzzles are on the easy side. This might not be the case for everyone as the puzzles do require a lot of out of the box thinking. I found most of the puzzles to be pretty easy though. I do play a lot of puzzle games so that may have had an impact. There are occasional puzzles that take a while to figure out, but I was able to figure out a majority of the puzzles pretty quickly. I am not exactly sure why the puzzles are so easy. Its not like the puzzles are really straightforward where the answer is really obvious. Many of the puzzles require a lot of out of the box thinking. Yet for some reason I was still able to solve most of the puzzles really quickly. Due to how well designed they are though I still felt a sense of satisfaction solving them. You might be a little disappointed that they aren’t super challenging, but you should still really enjoy solving them.
Enough about the gameplay. Lets move onto the other big element of A Fold Apart, the story. The story may not be for everyone as it may not appeal to people that don’t care about a story about long distance relationships. Nonetheless I thought the story and overall atmosphere was fantastic. I think this is due to a couple different reasons. This is not a perfect comparison, but while playing A Fold Apart it reminded me a lot of a Pixar movie. The story is not as in depth as it is a video game and not a movie. It seems to share a lot of similar elements though. The designers were really clever in how they decided to tell the story. Much of the story is told through text messages as the two characters express their own self doubts as their time apart grows longer. I found both of the characters interesting and the overall story is charming.
This is helped by the game’s overall style. I am not entirely sure how to describe the game’s style except that it works really well for the game. Possibly the best part of this is how the game treats the transitions between the puzzles and the walking sections. It kind of feels like the characters are walking between different pieces of paper featuring abstract representations of what the characters are going through. This merges back in to the real world as the characters are working through the struggles of being apart. I am far from an art/graphical expert so I am probably not doing a great job explaining the overall feel of the game. Simply put the game looks fantastic and it brings a lot to the overall story and gameplay experience.
There is a ton that I loved about A Fold Apart. From the truly innovative gameplay mechanics to the fantastic story and atmosphere it is hard not to enjoy your time with the game. I can honestly say that it is one of the most original and refreshing games that I have played in a long time. Other than the somewhat easy puzzles there is one other major issue with A Fold Apart.
That issue is A Fold Apart is on the shorter side. A Fold Apart is a fantastic experience that I would highly recommend. The problem is that it is also a short experience. I wasn’t expecting a super long experience as these type of games are usually on the shorter side. Yet I was still a little disappointed by the length. This is mostly because I was really enjoying the game and just wished it was longer. The game is spread over six chapters. The length of each chapter can vary quite a bit as some only take around 15-20 minutes while others can take over a half hour. In total I finished the game in about three hours. There were a couple puzzles that took me a little while to solve, but I figured out most of them pretty quickly. Therefore I would say that A Fold Apart will likely take most people around 2.5-4 hours to complete. While I would have liked the game to have been longer it wouldn’t have been a huge issue. With the game retailing for $20 though it does cost quite a bit for a pretty short game. I would still highly recommend playing A Fold Apart, but if cost is an issue for you this might be a reason to consider waiting for a sale to pick up the game.
Heading into A Fold Apart I was really intrigued by the game as it seemed to have a really interesting puzzle mechanic combined with a compelling world to explore. After playing the game I was not disappointed. The folding puzzle mechanic in the game is one of the most original puzzle mechanics that I have seen in a long time. The idea is so unique and yet it works so well. The puzzles can be kind of easy, but they are so creative and satisfying that puzzle fans should love this aspect of the game. Along with the truly original puzzle mechanics the game has a great story and atmosphere. The story is touching and is supported by an amazing atmosphere. The only major issue with the game is that it is on the short side. Most players will probably finish the game within 2.5-4 hours which is a little disappointing due to the price and the fact that I was enjoying the game so much.
People who don’t really care for story driven video games or puzzle games in general probably won’t like A Fold Apart. Everyone else will probably really enjoy the game especially those that appreciate a genuinely original puzzle mechanic. For these people I would highly recommend picking up A Fold Apart at some point. Whether you pick up the game right away or wait for a sale depends on how much cost and a game’s length matter to you.
Buy A Fold Apart online: Apple Arcade, Nintendo Switch (Digital), PC (Steam)