During PAX West 2019, OnlySP had the opportunity to play A Fold Apart, a puzzle game about a long-distance couple. In this creative title from developer Lightning Rod Games, players have to solve puzzles by folding pieces of paper to help the couple reunite.
Before the demo started, four pictures were spread out in a cross pattern depicting different couples. While I was not aware at first, Mark Laframboise, the game’s designer, told me that each of the four couples represented a different gender dynamic. Regardless of which one you pick, the demo played out the exact same. Without realizing it, I gravitated towards the option that showed a cis-gendered, heterosexual couple, with the male being color-coded blue, and the female color-coded red. The other options were a lesbian female couple, gay male couple, and another cis-gendered couple, but with the traditional colors swapped (male red, female blue). While I thought this was a great way for the game to be inclusive towards representing different couples, I wished it was more obvious. I initially thought the four pictures represented seasons or time periods to start the game.
The demo began with the male character going to his desk and working. Eventually, night falls and he falls asleep at his desk. At this point, the paper folding aspect of the game is introduced as the environment outside of the building unfolds. His significant other floats up to his window and calls him out: “Hiya Hun! I flew in to surprise you! Let’s go exploring!” At the bottom of the screen, the game begins to provide simple instructions on how to play. This sets the tone of the game as some sort of whimsical and dreamy adventure.
Your significant other teases you in order to teach the tutorial, flying over the bridge and flapping the environment over to its other side, rendering you unable to cross. The player is then taught to use the left and right trigger buttons to flip the paper environments. The teasing continues as she continues to say phrases such as “You’ll have to use your big architect brain to fix that” when you come across other puzzles. The continuous teasing is a cute way that added personality to the otherwise simple tutorial and puzzles.
To indicate which side of the paper is foldable, the corresponding edges will glow, allowing players to use the right stick to dictate how much of the paper is folded. The edge glow is important because if an incomplete bridge is on one side, folding the edge of the paper a certain amount could reveal a missing piece of the bridge on its reverse side, allowing the player to cross and complete the puzzle.
Another concept introduced was unfolding. Not only was correcting mistakes useful when folding the paper too much or not enough, but it was also a key part in solving puzzles. However, a paper can only be unfolded a previous move. If the player folds the same side twice in a row, unfolding will only apply to the last fold the player did. Thankfully, the game has the option to reset the entire puzzle if players find themselves stuck by holding down the unfold button for a set amount of time. The game’s mechanics do a great job of sticking true to its title, A Fold Apart: with just the simple mechanics of folding and unfolding players are able to get from one side of the page to the other, demonstrating that the couple is, literally, just a fold apart.
The last puzzle in the demo incorporated all three techniques that were taught to the player. I encountered some difficulty on the puzzle and was forced to restart, eventually deciphering the solution through some clever uses of folding and unfolding. The demo ends with the player’s character waking up from a dream and texting their significant other: “Hiya hun, are you there? Was just thinking about you.” I thought the end of the demo was very charming and whether or not players have been in a long-distance relationship, they will definitely be able to relate to the feeling of missing a loved one who is far away.
A Fold Apart is a lovely and inclusive puzzle game that has interesting concepts in its paper folding theme. Lafraimboise clarified with me that the game will later on also introduce folding from the top/bottom (which allows for gravity puzzles by dropping the player character and also pushable blocks), folding diagonally, and rotating the paper entirely. The three mechanics presented within the demo alone can simulate fairly challenging puzzles, and many more are sure to be beyond what the demo provided.
A Fold Apart launches on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One sometime in 2019. For more on the game and the world of single-player gaming, stay tuned to OnlySP on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.