A Simple Story Review

Arise: A Simple Story Review (Xbox One)

Some games have a significant narrative component. That is something that I think we are all clear about. Just as there are indie games with a purely fun component, others seek to convey a story in the most creative way possible. And without a doubt, Arise: A simple story in its Xbox one version is precisely one of those games that have the story as the first point of contact with the player.

Despite its name saying otherwise, the story of Arise is anything but simple. Not in the sense that it is a highly complicated story where you need to have paper and pencil at all times to know what is going on, far from that. Arise is a highly emotional story that at least I will find myself revisiting many times in the future. 

I have played many independent games that have as the main point of interest the story. I can say without a doubt that one of Arise’s main points is that it stands out above many stories that exist in the market. Both stories that came before and stories that came much later. 

Arise screenshot 1

And if there is something I want to make clear from the beginning of this A Simple Story review is the fact that Arise is a jewel that should be experienced at least once in life. And if, unfortunately, you haven’t done it, you should try to do it as soon as possible.

In my case, the copy I played belongs to the Xbox One version. Still, suppose you have the opportunity to play it on this or another console. In that case, you have to take advantage of it as soon as possible. 

So with that in mind, let’s start telling the incredible experience that is Arise: A Simple Story. Believe me that once I finish telling you all the essential parts you have to have before purchasing, you will want to play it too. 

Beautiful Visuals and Impeccable Aesthetics

One of the first things you’ll notice about Arise: A Simple Story, even before you start to notice its story, is something that you can see from the game’s start menu, and that is the fact that it has beautiful visuals.

It reminds me quite a bit of the visual you would find in Nintendo games, with an aesthetic that might seem childish but nothing further from the truth.

If we could call it in any way, what stands out the most in the section is that it seems that everything is made of plasticine, as if you were part of a sort of giant diorama. 

Arise: A simple story

This helps you reinforce the story part, and the fact that everything looks as if it were part of a picture book makes you feel much closer to the story. At least for me, it made me empathize much more with the characters; it made me feel closer to them.

If you’re looking for a game with ultra-realistic graphics where basically everything is detailed down to the smallest detail, the reality is that you’re not going to find that in Arise: A Simple Story. 

But that doesn’t mean that the game’s graphics are bad. On the contrary, if I have to praise something about the game, leaving aside its excellent story and gameplay mechanics, it’s the artwork. The way the lights and shadows complement each other and how water, snow particles, and fire particles exist within it is simply beautiful. It is, by all accounts, a game that is beautiful to look at, beautiful to play, and beautiful to experience. 

If I had to criticize something, it is that sometimes it seems that the scenery elements do not stand out too much. I lost a collectible on more than one occasion because I thought it was part of the scenery or something similar. 

A Different Kind of Game

The main gameplay mechanic of Arise: A Simple Story is based on the concept of time. If you’ve ever played Braid, it’s similar in the sense that they both play with time, but at the same time, it’s pretty different. 

While Braid controls time as you advance through the level, Arise has a dedicated button to advance time. 

With a single button, you can see how time advances in the scenery; how the snow melts, the water level rises, or the land collapses. But at the same time, you can make time go backward, making the scenery change according to your needs. And that could be considered the main point of Arise.

Arise a simple story 3

Its main mechanic (the change of time) complements very well-designed platform levels. You can observe how the level changes around you, making new platforms appear or disappear as you need. On top of that, you have a hook that allows you to perform long jumps, which opens up new opportunities within the levels. 

So we could say that the game itself is a giant puzzle. The primary key to overcoming the levels is how you can move the different parts within the level over time. And that goes hand in hand with the story themes. 

The game is shaped as a mix of a classic platformer (like Super Mario, Crash Bandicoot, or Spyro the dragon) mixed with a puzzle game. In that sense, it is pretty similar to other similar games like Toki Tori or Pushmo.

However, the mechanics of time, the concept itself of “playing” with time, and how things appear or disappear from the stage with it is something original and that at least I had never experienced before. 

A Magical Musical Score

Another part that undoubtedly makes it a delight to play is the sound part. The music in the game is an ideal companion for all levels, and at a certain point, I felt that it reacted to everything I did. The music was a natural part of the game world; I felt that what made me a part of it was just the music.

Even now, after finishing the game, some of the musical pieces are part of my list of music to go for a walk. And the way the music immerses you in the world of Arise is just phenomenal. 

Simple, Intuitive UI 

Controller options

The technical side of the game (leaving aside the graphics and sound) is also quite simple. It really is a simple game to navigate. The menus are pretty understandable, and you can move with them reasonably intuitively; besides, they are still within the game’s aesthetics, so it is also something quite interesting to see. 

The difficulty is just right, it’s not a challenge where you’ll die a lot of times, but I can tell you that it’s an adequate challenge to tell its story. At the end of the day, since it has a vital narrative component, the difficulty is not really the most important thing for the game. 

One thing I did notice is the fact that the controls do seem a bit complicated to understand at times, especially when it comes to camera positioning. I played on the Xbox one version. The cameras sometimes moved a bit inappropriately, making it difficult for me to see some jumps.

Overall, the technical side of Arise is what you would expect from an indie of its quality; it’s very well made, doesn’t have many drawbacks, and is simple to navigate. 

An Unforgettable Story

As I told you above, Arise’s story is its strong point; it’s what defines its main mechanics and what justifies its low difficulty. And the reason why I left it until the end is because I really don’t want to spoil it for you. After all, it’s a story worth experiencing by yourself. 

In Arise, we will play a man who has just passed away. In a manner of speaking, we experience how this man passes into the afterlife. That is why we can manipulate the time of our environment in any way we want. But despite that, it does not mean that we can interact with whatever we want. 

Changes in time affect our environment, but not the events we will see in the game. This allows us to observe the story from a different perspective; we see the same thing that this man looks at. Sometimes it feels like watching a beautiful story; at other times as the saddest story ever told. Sometimes it makes you want to scream because of the anger you feel for the decisions made by the protagonist. 

But the important thing is that you can’t change them because it’s just something that has already happened. And it is there, at that point in the story, when you realize that we are playing in the memories of a man who has already died, everything clicks. In which you understand the artwork, the music, and even the way the menus are designed. 

The game is replayable and has many collectibles in the form of small watercolor illustrations. These illustrations give us a better way to see who this man was, how he thought and how he felt throughout the game.

And if there is one thing Arise does well, it is to make us feel human. For the price it offers, Arise is a rather lovely narrative experience, one that certainly made me feel excellent and one that at least I can play on several occasions. 

arise a simple story 4

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The game is beautiful to look at. It has excellent artwork.
  • The mechanics are satisfying; it makes you want to keep playing until the end without much trouble. 
  • The story grabs you immediately; at all times, you want to know what is going to happen next. 
  • The gameplay is easy to understand; you don’t have to worry about learning new complex moves. 
  • The music is beautiful; it will simply make you part of the world.

Cons

  • The difficulty may become too easy for some experienced players. 
  • The camera is sometimes awkward, which causes some jumps to be complicated. 
  • The controls can become confusing in some sections.
  • The story feels too linear; there is no room for decisions.

If You Like Arise, You Will also Like:

  • Braid: Is another platform game that has a mechanic centered around time and time management. Is one of the first indie games in the history of videogame. Great game with nice graphics.
  • A short hike: Do you want a relaxing game similar to Arise? A short hike can be that game. Is a really cute indie game with anthropomorphic animals. The music and sound design is the best part.
  • Tunic: Is one of the best game I have played in the last months. Similar to arise in the way they present their story. Is very charming and has a great story overall.
  • It takes two: Another game that has a story driven gameplay. You should know it, it won game of the year last year. Similar to arise in the genre (Platform game) and in the presentation (a cute artstyle).

FAQ Section

Question: Is arise a simple story a popular game on Twitch?

Answer: Arise has been out for a couple of years now, so it doesn’t have many people playing it at the moment, neither in its PC version nor in its console version. Despite that, many streamers played it live at the time of release, so you may probably find more than one reviewing the game over the days. It’s an exciting game, after all. 

Question: Who makes Arise: A simple story?

Answer: The developers of the game are called Piccolo Studio. They are a small Spanish studio with quite an exciting experience. They are an entirely independent game studio. Besides Arise, they haven’t really created another game, but they have a promising future. 

Question: Can you play Arise: A simple Story with another player?

Answer: Yes. You can play as two players, one controlling the time while the other controlling the main character’s actions. It’s a pretty fun way to play that many people can really get to take advantage of, plus it’s pretty cooperative.

Final Verdict

Score: 8/10

If we had to define Arise: A simple story in one word, it would be beautiful. Arise is an excellent game to look at, lovely to listen to, with a nice story that makes you feel good. With a unique and fun approach and a different take on puzzle games, Arise has a lot of potentials that can be polished for a sequel. 

The game offers a story that will make you cry, make you feel the whole human experience, and that, at least to me, moved me to the core. It is a truly human story, reminding us of our own mortality. 

Despite that, sections such as its difficulty and replayability can become a conflict, which I hope they can solve in a sequel. If the game ever gets a sequel, a challenge mode, or some way to play a more complex version of the levels would be great; that would solve everything.

Arise is, in general terms, a platformer that is made to move you with its story, and it is a goal that it achieves in every sense of the word. 

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