Arise: A Simple Story Nintendo Switch Review

A story of joy in the past and love after loss, Arise: A Simple Story is a testament to the power of simplicity and tender memories.

By TotalFarmage, Posted 27 May 2022

Sometimes when you open up a game to play, you’re looking for something calm. Some games exist to tell a slow-paced, quiet story, one that is perfect for a rainy afternoon or a quiet evening. Sometimes, you want to sit down on the couch, pull out a game, and relax for a few hours. And sometimes, you just need to feel a bit of melancholy.

Arise: A Simple Story is quite the quality contender for such a cozy position, hitting those little feelings. Developed by Piccolo Studio and published by Untold Tales, Arise: A Simple Story is a 3D platformer with quite the interesting main mechanic: time manipulation. But that’s a bit of a far cry from what Arise: A Simple Story is actually about. So let’s start with the story.

Arise: A Simple Story, Nintendo Switch, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Ritual

Arise: A Simple Story begins with a sad, pensive scene: a funeral pyre. A figure is laid out atop the pyre, and it is then set ablaze. And afterward… the figure wakes up upon a snow-covered mountain, with a bit of light in the distance on a far-off peak. Along this snowy mountain are bright spots of light, upon which this figure dives into a variety of environments littered with memories.

And that’s the gist of Arise: A Simple Story’s plot. You traverse areas of the past, surmounting obstacles and trudging ever forward. Around these environments are small little white spots floating in the air. They’re out of the way, occasionally, and not necessary to complete each level. But they are little bits of the past, memories that can be collected and held onto for no mechanical benefit other than completion. However, these memories lay out a story that is told without words, and it would behoove you to put in the legwork and grab every single one.

As for the mechanics, Arise: A Simple Story follows a particular word in its name when it comes to the actual gameplay: simple. Arise: A Simple Story doesn’t have any particularly difficult to understand mechanics. As a 3D platformer, you run around each level and do precisely what you’d expect from an entry into the genre. The game controls smoothly, and it never particularly felt like some of the more precision platforming that needed to be done was out of my control.

There is fall damage, but it’s pretty clear where and what will force a quick reset for the most part. ‘Death’ in Arise: A Simple Story isn’t harshly punished (pretty sure you’re dead, to begin with, after all) and simply resets you at the nearest relevant area. Needing to reset was never an issue and only really seems to happen if you go too far out of the way looking for memories.

Arise: A Simple Story, Nintendo Switch, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Artwork

Speaking of memories, as mentioned prior, they are little bits of light scattered around each environment and serve as the main ‘supplement’ to the game’s wordless story. Memories are little snippets, single stills of past times that are unnecessary. And yet, the game does a good job of finding them all feel like they are, even without pushing you towards them.

Finally, it’s time to discuss the most interesting mechanic—time manipulation. Rather befitting of a game focused on remembering the past and holding it dear, Arise: A Simple Story’s main unique mechanic is using (at least on the Nintendo Switch) the right thumbstick to swivel time forwards and backward.

This affects each area differently based on its aesthetic. For example, the first area is a rocky, beach-like area covered in snow along the sea. Pushing time backward lowers the sea level and fills the land with snow, rolling back into an ice age, while moving time forwards raises the sea with melted snow, bringing the world into a mellow spring.

And, of course, Arise: A Simple Story does a great job at integrating the aesthetic with the mechanical. Going off the previous example, you might see a memory atop a rocky outcropping with no way to mantle the lowest rock. Simply roll time back, and watch a mound of snow build up that lets you climb atop the rocks. Alternatively, a piece of driftwood would be perfect for bridging the gap between cliffsides but is too far down in the water. Push time forward, raise the sea level, and hop across the wood, providing a proper bridge.

Arise: A Simple Story, Nintendo Switch, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots

On aesthetics, everything about Arise: A Simple Story is gorgeous. Again invoking its titular trait, the modeling is simplistic yet beautiful. It’s the kind of game that makes you want to sit there and stare for a while, where half of your motivation for moving around is simply to see what other beauties the world has to offer. In the same vein, the music is great and provides an incredibly suiting accompaniment to the travels you’ll embark on.

There were only a couple of gripes that surfaced with Arise: A Simple Story, and to be honest, they’re nitpicky at best. The first is that there were a couple of instances where the controls felt a bit inconsistent. As an example of what I mean, in Arise: A Simple Story’s first area, a minimal ‘climbing’ mechanic was introduced, where (on Switch) you need to hold the ZL trigger while traversing vertically.

However, there’s a grappling hook mechanic in the following area, where you can hook to large vines and assorted flying insects simply by holding Y until you’ve attached. It was a bit confusing the first time it came around, but it is otherwise a minor inconsistency that is easy to get past once you realize it’s there.

The other tiny gripe is that the camera always rests at a fixed angle. This comes with good and bad, though it’s not hard to find yourself wishing on the occasion that you could swing the camera to get different angles. The fixed angle means that you can easily tell where you need to go, as the camera always points in the direction you’re supposed to be going. It can help you refresh your sense of direction if you get a little too caught up in side tasks.

However, it also means that there’s so much of this beautiful world that only gets looked at from one direction. As stated, the art in Arise: A Simple Story is gorgeous, and it feels quite a bit of a shame that you can’t see as much of it as humanely possible. There are so many nooks and crannies that you just want to dig into, if for no reason other than to say you’ve seen them. Also, a section would pop up every once in a while, that could have benefited slightly from an adjustable camera, but nothing to make this point more than just a wistful thought.

Arise: A Simple Story, Nintendo Switch, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Overall, Arise: A Simple Story is a short but fantastic game. It isn’t the most challenging game out on the market; it isn’t the fastest paced or the most mechanically in-depth… but it doesn’t have to be. It’s calm, quiet, deep, and far more than enough to make it worth playing. If you need to fill a quiet afternoon or two and need a poignant story to pluck your heartstrings, definitely make sure to give Arise: A Simple Story a chance.

And that’s going to finish up our review for Arise: A Simple Story. If you want to check out the game for yourself, you can find it on Steam, Nintendo Switch, or Xbox One.

Jakob Gottschalk, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Techland Publishing
Developer(s): Piccolo Studio
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Atmospheric, Adventure
Release Date: 2019-12-03

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