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.
In Arise: A Simple Story you play as an old man. Shortly after his death he is transported to a sort of afterlife filled with magical worlds to explore. You will relive the memories of the man’s past from the love and loss that he dealt with during life.
If I were to classify Arise: A Simple Story I would say that it feels like a combination of a puzzle game and a 3D platformer. The platforming mechanics for the most part are typical of the genre. You have a jump to get over gaps and to help climb to the next location in your journey. You can also climb footholds on rock faces as well as use your grappling hook. The goal of each level is basically to make your way through the obstacles that stand in your way of reaching the end of the level.
Where Arise: A Simple Story differentiates itself is in the idea that you can manipulate time. You can rewind or fast forward time whenever you want. Depending on the level this will have an impact on the world around you. Changing the time for example may increase the size of ice bergs or increase the snow level. In other levels platforms break or move so your current period in time will impact the position of platforms. Thus you need to manipulate time in order to make a path forward for you in your journey.
While it isn’t exactly your traditional puzzle platformer, Arise: A Simple Story has a similar feel to it. I would say that the platforming is probably the bigger element of the game, but there is a sort of puzzle aspect to the game as well due to the time manipulation mechanics.
I had pretty high expectations for Arise: A Simple Story and it met my expectations for the most part. The game is quite enjoyable to the very end. The platforming is fun and fans of more casual 3D platformers will enjoy this aspect of the game.
The element of the game that I think really makes the game stand out though are the time manipulation mechanics. I am always curious how games that utilize this type of mechanic will turn out. Some games utilize it well in the gameplay, while others basically treat it like a gimmick where it doesn’t impact gameplay all that much.
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.
While playing the game it feels like the time manipulation elements were front and center when the levels were designed. Each level has its own theme which also impacts what is manipulated by time. This really shows that a lot of effort was put into this element of the game. It keeps the gameplay fresh as well since you are using the time elements in different ways to find a way to move forward in the level. There are times where it is really clever how you use the mechanics. In a way these elements of the game feel like a puzzle. I have played a number of games that have utilized time manipulation, and I think Arise: A Simple Story does one of the best jobs of capitalizing on it.
I thought the level design of the game was really good. The path forward is generally pretty obvious, but the game comes up with interesting new ways to get you there. The game basically uses the same mechanics from the start, but each world feels unique which really keeps the game fresh.
As for Arise: A Simple Story’s difficulty, I would say that it is on the easier side. The game is pretty forgiving when it comes to the platforming. The puzzle/time manipulation mechanics are clever, but it is usually pretty obvious what you need to do to proceed. If you move both directions in time and are observant, you will eventually see what you have to do.
While I think the game could have been a little more difficult, I don’t see it as a major issue for the game. I attribute this mostly to the fact that the game was designed as a more story driven experience. I don’t think the story would have worked as well with a game that was frustratingly difficult. The easier difficulty allows most people to be able to play the game, while also allowing players to focus on the story rather than dying over and over again.
Speaking of the story and overall atmosphere, in addition to the interesting time manipulation puzzle mechanics I applaud the game for its efforts in the overall story/atmosphere. The game’s story is mostly about reliving your past memories as the old man reminiscences about the love and loss in his life. There is no dialog in the entire story. The story is told through the environment itself and some memory collectibles you find in your journey. I am not going to go much into details to avoid spoilers, but I found the story to be quite compelling and at times sad but also hopeful. I could see the story really touching some players.
Arise: A Simple Story’s atmosphere really supports the story. The game utilizes a more minimalistic style that really works for the game. Most of the levels are quite colorful and really add to the overall atmosphere. Additionally the audio and music really help set the mood for a sad but uplifting story. While the game’s visuals might not reach the technical level of other games, it more than makes up for it in its style.
There is a lot of things to like about Arise: A Simple Story. It is kind of a shame that one of the biggest issues I had with the game had to deal with the controls. The game’s controls for the most part are straightforward.
The problem is that they feel slightly off for some reason. The jumping is generally pretty simple where you don’t need precise jumps. The game gives you quite a bit of leniency as well. The game utilizes what I would call a slow jump, where it takes time for the character to start jumping after you press the button. You eventually adjust to it, but you will die sometimes as the jump is not as responsive as it probably should have been. Sometimes you will miss jumps that you think you should make. The punishment for death is limited which helps some. There are parts of the game that are more difficult that they should have been, solely due to the controls not working as well as they probably should have.
On top of the jump controls not being the greatest, the camera angles can sometimes be an issue as well. You ultimately only have limited control over the camera at any given time. This leads to some issues when jumping where it is hard to judge depth and where exactly you are jumping. The fixed camera sometimes makes it easy to miss some of the memory collectibles.
Other than the controls, the other main issue with Arise: A Simple Story is the fact that it is not a particular long game. How much time you get out of the game will somewhat depend on if you are the type of player who tries to find all of the collectibles. Those who are only interested in the main story and could care less about the collectibles, will take a decent amount less time than players who want to find all of them. The game includes ten different levels/chapters. Most could probably be finished in around 20-30 minutes. Ultimately I think most players could finish the game within 3-5 hours. The game doesn’t really have any replay value either as each time you play the game it will be the same.
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.
My recommendation for Arise: A Simple Story comes down to your feelings towards story driven games, puzzle platformers, and the general premise. If one of these elements don’t really appeal to you, I don’t know if Arise: A Simple Story will be for you. If the game’s premise interests you at all though, I think you will enjoy Arise: A Simple Story and should consider picking it up.
Arise: A Simple Story
Release Date: PlayStation 4/5, PC, Xbox One/Series X|S – December 2nd, 2019, Nintendo Switch – April 28th, 2022, | Systems: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Developer: Piccolo Studio | Publisher: Untold Tales | ESRB Rating: Everyone
Genres: Indie, Platformer, Puzzle
Official Website: https://arise-game.com/
- Creative use of the time manipulation mechanics along with the platforming leads to a fun adventure.
- Touching story and a great atmosphere to explore.
- The platforming controls don’t always work as well as you would like leading to some deaths.
- The game is relatively short as most players could beat it within just a couple hours.
Recommendation: For fans of puzzle platformers that are intrigued by the time manipulation mechanics and a touching story.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Piccolo Studio and Untold Tales for the review copy of Arise: A Simple Story 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.