I’ve owed Lightning Rod Games’ A Fold Apart a review for longer than is fair at this point. To be honest, while I fell in love with the demo of this charming, lovely puzzle game, it hit far too close to home when I was originally supposed to review it. Released against the backdrop of a pandemic that has forced many of us – myself included – to isolate away from loved ones, A Fold Apart suddenly became surprisingly true to life for far more than those in long-distance relationships. Unable to visit friends or family, it was an emotional picture of my whole life.
That’s where A Fold Apart really shines – in its telling of a tale as old as time: the separation of two lovers as they take different paths in life. Luckily, it’s the digital age and a long-distance move isn’t the dealbreaker it once was. Thanks to their phones, and a lot of love and hope, there’s a chance that the distance won’t be so bad after all, right…?
One of my favourite small details is that you can choose the gender of your couple – this inclusivity is such a small and easy feature that makes such a huge impact. It’s small, it’s over in a second, and it seems easy to move past, but I can’t not mention it and what a wonderful little addition it is.
While I’ve seen some complaints about the dialogue being overdramatic, it seemed like a fair depiction of how small things can easily grow big in a long-distance relationship. Stripped down to texting and calling, our protagonists are under a lot of emotional pressure and missing one another. I feel like it didn’t bother me because I’ve been in that place where something that shouldn’t be such a big deal is magnified. The conversations aren’t so invasive either – even if the dialogue sometimes becomes a little unnecessarily intense, it’s not really distracting. Unfortunately, it also sometimes feels a little unrelated to the levels – like playing a game only to occasionally be reminded there’s story as well.
A Fold Apart brings more than just its relatable story to the table. With beautiful, paper-styled graphics and unique folding mechanics, it’s actually quite lovely (and rather cathartic) to play. The puzzles aren’t too difficult, but can still leave the player wondering for a few minutes what they’re supposed to do. If you do get stuck, there’s a built-in hint system, which I always appreciate in a game. I think it would make a lot more sense on a mobile format than PC, but the controls worked just fine on my PS4 controller, and I loved that you could easily hit a single button to review the controls at any time.
The negatives are definitely few and far between. If there’s a way to window the game, I couldn’t find it. I don’t like forced full-screen settings much, so for me this was honestly pretty frustrating. At worst, they were small quality of life details.
I have pretty mixed feelings overall – while I don’t have a lot bad to say about the game at all, I feel more neutral than anything. At the end of the day, it’s a gorgeous little game with a storyline that many of us would be able to connect with. But coming in at only a few hours of gameplay and the price point of $20, I think I might struggle to really recommend it to someone looking for a puzzle game to try out. There’s not much replayability, and I can’t see myself picking it up again just to reexperience the story – it’s a beautifully done game with delightfully unique mechanics, but it doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot to say otherwise. A Fold Apart is a fantastic concept that I would love to see Lightning Rod Games do more with, but I think there could be a little more to it in the end.
Want to check it out for yourself? You can find A Fold Apart on Apple Arcade, PS4, PC, Switch, and Xbox One.
Order Up! is a weekly column featuring indie-focused reviews, news, or interviews! We like old games just as much as new ones and are always looking for something to check out. Have a game recommendation, a project, or a company you want to talk about? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @ArcanaChance