A Fold Apart Review – PlayStation 4

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In this age more than ever before, we have the ability to keep in constant interaction and communication with our loved ones.  Whether it be via text messages, instant messages, social media posts, or even the old standby phone calls and mailed letters – there is no excuse for keeping in contact with friends and family.  The problem with this era of constant virtual communication, is that it is very easy to wrongly read into the intent of a message, resulting in misunderstandings, confusion, and hurt feelings.

A text as simple as “What RU doing??” can be understood in any number of ways.  Maybe the texter is feeling romantic (Hey sexy, what are YOU doing right now?), maybe the texter is angry (What in the HELL do you think you are doing?!?), or maybe the texter is just looking for help (What are you doing right now? I sure could use a hand moving this couch).  With my wife, my kids, my extended family, and my friends, I have seen misconstrued messages escalate to major misunderstandings more often than I care to remember.  The complexity of maintaining a long distance relationship in this age of constant contact makes up the basis of A Fold Apart, the incredible innovative and heartfelt puzzle game from Lightning Rod Games.

A Fold Apart tells the story of a romantically involved couple – a teacher and an architect – who find themselves suddenly in a long-distance relationship as the result of a temporary job opportunity which draws the architect out of their rural hometown and into the big city for a period of time.  As the two try to maintain their relationship via text messaging, their mutual feelings of doubt, despair, and loneliness become a heavy weight that they must each contend with.

All this relationship stuff merely serves as the vehicle to link together the series of ingenious puzzle-based gameplay levels in which the gamer is presented with a sheet of paper that features different background scenery on each of its sides.  As that level’s character progresses across this scenery sheet (walking only, no jumping), they will encounter a series of obstacles – whether it be missing platforms, rocks, walls, electric boxes, etc. – that will impede their progress.  The gamer’s task is to fold and/or flip the sheet to line up matching surfaces and cover obstacles allowing the character to reach the star at the end of the level.

Mechanically, A Fold Apart works well using the PS4 controller, but I couldn’t help but feel that the game in many ways is better suited for a touch screen interface.  The controller’s delineation between grabbing a corner versus grabbing a side, and the precision sometimes required for making a fold was a bit too fine for what I could manage with my standard Dualshock4 controller.  I see that A Fold Apart is also currently available for play on the iOS in Apple Arcade, so maybe I’ll have to give it a try and see if my suspicions are correct.

A Fold Apart’s presentation is simple, yet stunning – delivering a heartfelt and comprehensible story using character expressions and visual cues, rather than the half-hearted voiceovers and unnecessary dialog many puzzle games employ.  With A Fold Apart, I truly felt like I was playing an interactive Pixar short, which given Lightning Rod Games’ staff (former Disney Interactive, Ubisoft, and EA) comes as no surprise.

A Fold Apart clocks in at just under three hours of gameplay.  With an MSRP on the PS4 of $20, the game is certainly worth is price based on the presentation quality and overall gameplay experience.  However, given that A Fold Apart is currently available to play on iOS with a $5 Apple Arcade subscription it makes the $20 console price seem a bit steep.

A Fold Apart is a work of art, plain and simple.  While it’s a relatively brief experience, the storyline and gameplay are a true joy.

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