A unique puzzler that allows “getting hitched” to have several meanings.
Love stories are commonplace in media, but few of them feature the difficulty of long-distance relationships. A Fold Apart tells the story of a loving couple who seemingly are perfect for each other, but go through heavy internal turmoil dealing with the fact they can’t see one another every day. A unique puzzler, A Fold Apart has you manipulating the planes where the characters are moving by folding the screen in various ways and directions to help keep the protagonists moving forward. As warmhearted and enjoyable as this experience is, some framerate issues take away from the beautifully colorful landscapes and art, and it takes just a few short hours.
After meeting and falling in love, a teacher and architect have to make a decision. The teacher has a steady job in the country, where they love to live, but the architect is offered a contract in the big city and takes the job. They decide to make it work and are forced to communicate primarily via text as they go through their workdays in different time zones—a world apart. This journey takes you through each character’s dialogue decisions and the issues that pop up with some poor communication choices, as well as displaying the deficiencies in communicating through technology, where some meaning and intention is lost. As these characters bounce back and forth, feeling the whole spectrum of emotions, you must navigate them back to a sense of calm in order to stop them from reading between the lines, where jumping to conclusions about certain statements is causing some strife. If you’ve ever lived through a long-distance relationship, this story will really hit you in the feels. The only real downside to how things play out is the length, but A Fold Apart wrapped up nicely in the time allotted.
Besides the dialogue choices, the other primary gameplay function is the puzzles as you move from frame to frame. Traversal of the cityscapes and tiered environments is hindered by the lack of ramps or connecting platforms, and so you must fold the screen in various ways to attach pathways for your character to move forward. Other objects are introduced later to spice things up, such as blocks that can be climbed, but all in all, you will be tackling increasingly difficult paper-folding puzzles. Since the mechanic is so unique, it held my attention even with its simple premise. The fact the game was quite short helped make the fun last, where a lengthier title would have grown stale.
Vibrant colors and paper-esque worlds highlight an art style that is aesthetically pleasing throughout. The use of text in the sky and meaningful connotation makes for a journey that looks incredible from start to finish, with a powerful soundtrack to back it up. The negative here is the performance is a rough spot at times. Regular dips in the frames allow for stuttering that definitely took away from the appealing landscapes and traversal. If you can power through these hitches, you will have a pleasant time, but it definitely was something I noticed and was bothered by during my entire playthrough.
A Fold Apart is a unique experience in terms of what is on offer from a puzzle-solving aspect, with the paper-folding brain-twisters allowing for an enjoyable experience from top to bottom. Pair that with beautifully-crafted environments, vibrant colors, and a compelling story and you have a game that plays and looks great. If the performance was on point, this would have been one of the premier puzzle experiences in the first half of 2020. Still, A Fold Apart is one to pick up and play if you can look past the framerate issues.