During GamEir’s festive break I got to sit down and play Piccolo Studio’s debut title, Arise: A Simple Story. What I was first struck by was the art design. It’s beautiful. There is a sense of whimsy and I adored the world that Piccolo Studio’s built.
The first step into a bigger world
The story of Arise: A Simple Story is simple when you first enter this world but as you delve deeper and deeper you see the nuance and wonder. The game opens with the main character simply known as “Old Man”. It is his funeral and he passes into the afterlife and from there he gains access to the most important moments of his life. You the player must traverse these various memories to reach the final goal, what is that? Well, you’ll have to buy the game and find out.
As I said previously the graphics are charming, nothing groundbreaking but that’s not what the dev team were going for. They clearly wanted the story and visual storytelling aspects to enthral the player and they did just that with this particular player.
For example, there is no dialogue. As you move through the various memories (levels) you find smaller pocket memories which give you snapshots of the old man’s life. These include the moments of feeling alone as a child, meeting his best friend and how he was separated from the woman he loved. These simple images tell a thousand words and it shows the ingenuity of the team at Piccolo Studio. Collecting all of these don’t serve any purpose other than helping you further connect with the old man as well as possibly achieving that Platinum Trophy.
Traversing the afterlife
In Arise: A Simple Story you go from memory to memory and these memories represent the old man’s heightened understanding of his life so elements of the world are far more fantastical than they probably were. In the first couple of levels you are going through a child’s life so everything is big, the colours are lavish and the score is eccentric. This is all down to BAFTA award-winning composer David Garcia.
He brings the raw emotional language that makes his previous works so memorable, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice anyone? Similar to Hellblade Arise: A Simple Story grows further in emotional complexity as you travel further into the old man’s life. The levels become more complex and harrowing as the events of the old man’s life at times are quite tragic. The puzzles and the stakes grow as you face the obstacles in this man’s life and on that note.
Navigating Arise: A Simple Story
At the heart of Arise: A Simple Story is a brilliant gameplay system. The player moves the old man across the afterlife while also controlling the world around him to ensure he can get past the obstacles in his way. The best way I can describe it every time you enter a new memory there is a gimmick and you have control over it. In one level I had to travel across a valley where an avalanche was happening. Areas would become unaccessible as they were destroyed by the avalanche but thankfully with the ability to fast forward time or rewind time I could place the areas back in their original positions.
It was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was also another area where you are surrounded by dark versions of yourself and if they surround you you’re done. So when the lightning strikes you freeze the lightning and the spectres are dispersed away. Getting the timing correct was challenging but I loved it.
Then comes the icing on the cake for me with the gameplay of Arise: A Simple Story. It’s couch co-op. This was brilliant and because there was a romance at the heart of this game I thought I should play this with my other half. She found it stressful as she’s not a gamer but together we traversed and conquered this afterlife and it was a ton of fun.
I’d have to say at €19.99 and the decent length (approximately 8 hours so a casual weekends worth of fun) Arise: A Simple Story is definitely something worth picking up for fans of games like Journey, Limbo and other games of their ilk.
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