A Fold Apart Hands-On Impressions

Long-distance relationships aren’t easy, and they can become an often complicated subject. Whether a civilian or a service member, long-distance relationships can come with their mixture of warm feelings and crushing sadness. Lightning Rod Games is hoping to bring a thoughtful perspective to the discussion of Long-Distance Relationships with A Fold Apart, an adventure puzzle game inspired by the art of Origami.

While tinkering their next game idea, the team discovered the perspective of folding paper. They realized that when they fold magazines, they can bring the desired object closer. They could change the view and perspective of they fold the paper and create entire landscapes with this process. Inspired by this revelation, the team decided to use a colorful, dreamscape inspired color palette and bring their entire gameplay mechanic into the ability to fold paper. In addition to this gameplay mechanics, the team at Lightning rod Games used a story from one of their own team members as the core of the story. This story is a real account of the triumphs and difficulties of living in a long-distance relationship. These experiences have been adapted into the core narrative of A Fold Apart. To tell their story of this experience, the player interacts with the level, pulling and morphing the level, to bring two characters together.

The roughly 10-minutes demo of A Fold Apart introduced me to the first option and that was to choose the relationship. There were several options to choose, which included various same-sex choices. While this may seem as a small decision, this is a welcome option for the player to better reflect themselves and their emotional experience into the immersive world fo A Fold Apart. I appreciate this choice to make A Fold Apart more inclusive for the more diverse audiences in gaming. Following this choice, the demo for A Fold Apart began.

The demo of A Fold Apart begins with a young man, named Sam. Sam is an architectural designer, working as an architect and often traveling. As he works hard in his drawing and animation, he takes a moment to think and take perspective. In doing so, he takes in a person who means the world to him, Alex. The love of his life is far away, but he can feel her thinking about him. While entire oceans and continents apart, there is the sadness of not being near his loved one. Though, with her heart and mind, he dreams of being close to her once again. The demo then begins to morph into a dreamscape, and a city materializes.

The couple has imagined seeing a city together, under a moonlight sky, with the world illuminated in city lights. In this dreamscape, Alex is seen flying, and teases Sam to come closer. This is where the origami mechanic of A Fold Apart comes into play. Despite being in the same world, Sam and Alex are not in the same location. The demo begins in demonstration the ability to pull and pinch paper to bring the two together. Despite being in two different locations, pulling the paper brought Sam and Alex together. This simple mechanic soon grew into flipping paper, folding, and unfolding paper.

A Fold Apart utilizes a striking visual style reminiscent of a storybook. Small squares containing the city appears and lined themselves into a path, creating an eye-popping, immersive, and truly dimensional sense of immersion. In A Fold Apart, players feel like they re truly part of the unfolding emotional journey. On top of this structure, the color palette of A Fold Apart is whimsical, with soft, but bright colors and glowing effects to illustrate the heartfelt atmosphere of A Fold Apart. In a way, I was reminded of the emotional softness of characters from recent cinema, namely the characters from Disney’s Up and Inside Out. A Fold Apart provides a genuine weaving of art and narrative, where the visual imagery matches the emotional tone of the characters and the levels. This weaving is done with care and authenticity, transporting a real experience into the unique dimensions of the game world. In A Fold Apart, the player becomes Sam and it feels that instead of witnessing a long-distance relationship within a dream, you are truly a part of this dream  It’s remarkable and profound, and it is truly heartfelt.

The duration of the demo continued to experiment with the paper-pulling mechanics. In some instances, I had to flip entire pages and move Sam to properly position him on the page. Pulling and manipulating the paper was simple and effective, but never felt cumbersome or hard to control. The effect of folding two viewpoints was incredible, and it was astonishing to see that two different pieces of paper felt alive and fluid. The final puzzle involved flipping the page and consistently unfolding and folding the paper to reach the end, as well as moving Sam. it took me some time to solve this final puzzle, but doing so was satisfying. The demo concludes with Sam meeting and greeting Alex in this dream, then subsequently waking up. As Sam brings himself awake, he quickly texts Alex to recount the dream he had.

In the short demo, I was brought to profoundly feel. A Fold Apart provided something genuine and authentic, not using love and romance as a mere plot device but as a vehicle for the player to engage. The team at Lightning Rod Games truly cares about giving an experience that is more than just what is on the surface. The unique puzzle mechanics of folding paper will certainly engage players in a distinct way that hasn’t been seen in video games. Wisely woven with the core of the game, A Fold Apart provides an interaction that extends beyond pressing buttons. Players will apply their own experiences to A Fold Apart and find a fond connection to be had with the game’s main characters. This extends into more than just romantic relationships, but friendships and loved ones seperated over great distances. I could personally connect with the experience in A Fold Apart, from missing my father during Army training to missing my friends and family when on a long-distance internship for 6 months. In those moments, there was always that heartfelt knowledge that thinking of them was all that was needed to make those separations more bearable. In A Fold Apart, experiences will be shared from the game to the player. In a way, A Fold Apart will bring players, and their feelings, together.

A Fold Apart launches this coming Fall 2019 for Steam, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

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