Indie games do their best to stand out from the crowd. Not only do they have to catch your attention over the big Triple A titles, but they also have to shine over the hundreds of other Indie games. Almost every day of the year a dozen or more games are released and compete for your cash. I bring this up because several years ago at PAX East I saw a game that stuck with me and the main reason was its heart, origami heart to be specific. Lightening Rod Games used a piece of paper, and instructions to fold it into a heart as promotional material for their puzzle game A Fold Apart.
You play as someone whose partner has taken a job in another city. You must close the distance between them by manipulating the world they are in. Try to bring them closer together as their separation wears on the relationship. Can you make a long-distance relationship work, or will you succumb to the loneliness? The story of separation is one worth playing.
When you start out, you get to pick the couple you are going to play as. Since no relationship is one sided, you will have to play both members. You get to decide not only your gender, but the gender of your partner. This means that there are multiple combinations, and you can choose the one that most closely resembles your personal choice. No matter the choice you make, the game will still play the same, so you are not required to complete it multiple times.
Gameplay starts out simple and evolves with each level. At first you can only flip the paper over and fold it vertically. As puzzles increase in difficulty, you will get new abilities. By the time you finish, you will be folding vertically, horizontally, from the corners, flipping it over, and rotating it. This will allow you to solve any puzzle that is thrown your way. If you do get stuck, there is a hint system built in. This is one of my few issue with the game. The hint you receive is the 1st step in the puzzle. You can either take it from there or get the next step. It will walk you through the full puzzle to the point where you just have to inch over the finish line. This means that you can effectively skip through the entire game without actually playing.
Graphics are neat and clean. The use of a pastel color palette works out well. Shifting from brighter colors to darker blues not only helps convey day and night, but the shifting feelings of the couple. The soundscape and soundtrack just add another layer to the emotions. The changing cityscape that you must traverse is also well designed.
A Fold Apart is a unique puzzle game that is available on XB1, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. With a price tag of $20, this is right on the edge of being a bit pricey for what you get. Most puzzle games offer little replay value, but this one is original enough to justify playing it through at least once. The hint system makes it easy if you get stuck, but also makes it too easy to just bypass the entire game.