With the rise of online gaming, local co-op games have almost become a lost art. High-quality local co-op games like A Way Out and Overcooked are few and far between, so those looking for something to play with their friends, family, or others don’t always have many options. Those looking for something to fill the void in their local co-op collection may want to check out Arise: A Simple Story.
Arise: A Simple Story from developer Piccolo Studios and publisher Techland Publishing is one of those rare games that is actually built around the concept of co-op. It’s possible to play the game solo and indeed, it performs well that way, but the experience is greatly enhanced when playing with a partner. In Arise, a player controls an old man who dies and explores an afterlife filled with memories of his wife. One player controls the man, using him to complete basic platforming challenges and puzzles, while a second player controls time, weather, and more as the game progresses.
The main role of the second player is to rewind and fast-forward time by moving the right stick back and forth. It is used to manipulate the game world to allow the adult to reach inaccessible areas. For example, the second player may need to fast-forward time to fill the lake with rain, and raise a platform that the old man can use to reach higher ground. This creates a unique dynamic between the first and second players, as they actually have different gameplay experiences, but work together to achieve the same goal.
Co-op makes Arise’s story better and the game is definitely better when playing with a friend, but the actual implementation of co-op leaves something to be desired when it comes to the second player. The role of the second player is very important in terms of the story and exploring some of the deeper themes in Arise: A Simple Story, but their roles against the first player are rather dull. The first player does all the work, and yes the second player manipulates the game world and the environment, but many of the puzzles are so simple that they almost feel like a passive observer at times. There are moments in Arise, when enemies are introduced, where the second player needs to be more actively engaged with the game, but otherwise, they may find themselves bored with it.
The player controlling the old man will likely have more consistent fun with Arise, as they complete platforming challenges and such. Some may be turned off by how slow the old one moves and has a weird depth perception problem that hurts some of the platforming, but it’s an engaging platformer that controls well and is hard to put down. But even if the gameplay in Arise is a complete bust, some will still find themselves compelled to finish it if for nothing more than its gorgeous visuals.
Simply put, Arise is a visual knockout. If the game had been released earlier in the year, it would undoubtedly have been nominated for Best Art Direction at The Game Awards 2019, and would probably have had a chance to win it. Being too detailed will spoil the experience for those who want to try Arise for themselves, as seeing what each level will look like is one of the game’s best hooks. There are only 10 levels in Arise, but each level has its own visual theme that the developers really made to make each stage special.
The striking visuals in Arise: A Simple Story are taken to another level by the way the game matches its art with its sound effects and musical score. Whether it’s the snow crunching underfoot as the old man pushes his way through a snowdrift or the music growing in perfect rhythm with a gust of wind, Arise uses its sound design to reach new audiences. height. Just as the game likely would have been in contention for Best Art Direction at The Game Awards 2019 had it come out a bit earlier in the year, it also likely made the Game Awards nominees list for the Score category/ Music.
In terms of sound design and graphics, Arise is a top-tier game that can stand alongside any other game on the market. These elements and the unique co-op gameplay come together to tell an emotional story that deals with love, loss, death, happiness, and more. Even though Arise is a short game that can be completed in just a few hours or less, it still does more with its narrative than many other games that spend dozens of hours telling a story. Arise may tell a simple story, but it’s definitely one worth checking out.
In many categories, Arise: A Simple Story is a step above many other games, and it’s one of the best indie games of the year, for sure. The local co-op experience being dull for the second player is admittedly a major flaw, but those who overlook it will find a memorable co-op game they won’t regret experiencing.
Arise: A Simple Story is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Today Technology was given an Xbox One code for this review.