PAX West 2019: ‘A Fold Apart’ is All Heart and No Challenge

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A Fold Apart

The Indie Megabooth at PAX West is a staple of the convention and offers up a rotating showcase of indie games. One of the games I checked out at the booth was A Fold Apart from Lighting Rod Games. A 3D puzzle game, A Fold Apart explores the emotional struggles of a long-distance relationship through a unique new mechanic, folding the page of the screen to bring together platforms.

The story is simple and one that many of us have lived through. After career choices force them down separate paths, Alex and Sam vow to make their relationship work despite the challenges of living apart. Like many of us who have been in these kinds of relationships, they communicate through text messages frequently but ultimately, misunderstandings are inevitable and begin to push the couple apart. As the characters misinterpret each other, emotional barriers begin to erect between them, causing physical ones to materialize in their path.

A Fold Apart

But in order to finish their story, it’s up to us to help the couple safely navigate around their relationship hurdles and find a way forward. Ultimately, it’s your mission to bring them together by folding and flipping the pieces of paper that these characters inhabit on the screen. A Fold Apart is a puzzle-platformer, so you must pick the right combination of paper flip and/or folding in order to easily traverse the distance between the couple.

A Fold Apart promises to offer up complicated puzzles that will push the player with the new folding dynamic. That said, the demo available on the show floor took just over three minutes to complete and barely utilized the mechanic in a way more than just drag the page to the platform and easily cross the path. Truthfully, if pulling long-distance lovers back together was this easy, I could have helped out many of my friends.

That being said, the finished title promises over fifty unique paper folding puzzles exploring the emotional journey of Alex and Sam, which means there could very well be so much more not on display in the demo. Sadly, as a puzzle gamer, the mechanics of traversing the distance was so simplistic, I’m not sure if I’m ready to pick up the game just yet.

A Fold Apart

On the plus side, the art style is beautiful. The blocky texture of folded paper presents character designs that stand out in the crowded indie area on PAX West’s main floor. The concept itself is also ingenious, and perhaps if the difficulty increased over how long the couple is apart, it would be enough to pull a veteran puzzle gamer in.

In addition, one of the best choices the developers at Lighting Rod Games made was to choose non-binary names for it’s couple. This also allows players to choose from same-sex and straight couples, offering up four combinations to choose from. While the main couple advertised is straight, the additional two characters also showcase designs that aren’t necessarily coded as specifically male or female, at least in my opinion. This is a choice that will lend to the immersion of the player regardless of their sexuality, a rarity in romantic games.

Overall, A Fold Apart is full of emotion and heart that you can feel just that by watching the screen. That being said, it doesn’t offer the challenge that I look for in puzzle games. With over 50 levels though, this experience may be limited to the choice of level for the demo

A Fold Apart is set to release on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation4 later this fall.