Arise: A Simple Story review: A beautiful story of love and loss

Piccolo Studio
Piccolo Studio /

Arise: A Simple Story provides heartfelt storytelling and stunning visuals that will make anyone fall in love.

Title: Arise: A Simple Story
Developer: Piccolo Studio
Publishers: Techland
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One (version reviewed), Epic Game Store
Release Date: December 3, 2019

Arise is a simple story about love and loss. That thread is never strayed away throughout the nine levels. Simplicity is a common theme throughout; however, it is done artfully. The detail and the game mechanics are cooked down to their essence, which makes this game thrive. The music pairs exceptionally well with the story beats throughout each level.

Arise: A Simple Story is about the life of a man who has recently died. The game starts with his family, memorializing him on a pyre. Afterward, he wakes up in a snow-covered world where memories begin flooding back to him. The memories are the levels which center around essential moments in his life. Of course, most of these moments feature the love of his life.

Each new memory provides a starkly different level from the rest. Variety was the most abundant trait in Arise: A Simple Story. Every level featured a learning curve in how to traverse. These variations gave the game some light puzzle elements that certainly pleased me throughout.

Levels are not just levels, either. They are are also representations of the memories. For example, the level titled “Joy” is full of flowers and colors. I was enamored with each level’s atmosphere because of how gorgeous each one was designed. Arise: A Simple Story is certainly a simple story, but it’s also wholesome and full of heart.

Arise: A Simple Story
Piccolo Studio /

When you have the ability to traverse your memories, you are also given the opportunity to control time. As the man recounts his memories, he has the ability to move time forward or backward. Doing so will change the environment in specific ways. Seasons will change, trees will fall, and animals will move at the will of this mechanic.

Controlling time requires some kind of thought. Elements in the environment move unexpectedly, so this is when the puzzle aspect comes in to play. I continuously moved time to map my route throughout the level. Later on, you get the opportunity to freeze time, which requires newer ways to traverse the memory.

The game is primarily linear, so there is only one route to go when progressing through the story. However, there are some off the beaten path routes where you can collect additional memories. Collecting these memories will give players access to colorfully drawn works of art. They offer more detail into the more significant memory the man is traversing.

The only criticism I have with the map traversal is the camera. You never have control over the camera. A majority of the time, the camera is perfectly positioned with no worrying about how far the next jump is. But there are times when determining distance or height was tricky. It would’ve been helpful to adjust the camera myself.

Arise: A Simple Story
Piccolo Studio /

One last thing about moving through memories: Arise: A Simple Story has couch coop. My girlfriend and I worked together to move through each level. I took control of the man’s movement while she controlled time. This was a very different kind of coop than what I was used to.

We frequently conversed on what and when each of us should do. It also doubled down on the puzzle elements because we had to coordinate together to make it through the game. Furthermore, the game’s story resonated more with us because we were playing with each other rather than alone.

I want to hear the music of Arise: A Simple Story come out of my record player, and I want the art on my walls. This game is stunning, and the music pairs so well with the story points. I was frequently left gawking at what I was looking at. With no actual dialogue, the music does an amazing job of conveying the story.

Each memory was delicately created. Some are filled with life, while others are bleak or minimalistic. They are stunning nonetheless. The memories throughout the game also have their own soundtracks, which I would listen to over and over. Fans of colorful art and exceptionally paired music will find Arise: A Simple Story, an excellent game.

Arise: A Simple Story
Piccolo Studio /

Arise: A Simple Story touched me. The story is sincere and heartwarming. The visuals, gameplay, and music are perfect elements for this amazing game. The minor camera angle issues are easily overlooked most of the time. I recommend playing it with a significant other because it will make the story so much more impactful. That said, it’s still an enjoyable solo experience.

The developers of this game have poured their hearts and soul into this game and it shows in every aspect of Arise: A Simple Story. Players will be hardpressed to find a flaw in this lovely game. Simply put, Arise: A Simple Story is a perfect game.

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10. Piccolo Studio has created a phenomenal and heartfelt story in Arise: A Simple Story. Indie games need to stand out from the AAA titles, and this game effortlessly does that. The simplistic mechanics paired with great storytelling make Arise: A Simple Story, one of the best indie games this year.. Piccolo Studio. . Arise: A Simple Story

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.