A Fold Apart by Lightning Rod Games is a subdued journey through the ups and downs of a relationship. Both heart wrenching and uplifting, it is a unique puzzle game with a poignant story about compromise and what it means to truly love someone.
A Fold Apart begins by allowing players to choose the type of love story experience that best matches their preferred orientation: Female and Male, Female and Female, Male and Male, etc. While the story remains the same, it is nice that the developers added this feature to ensure more players may relate to the narrative.
What begins as a charming story of two individuals falling in love eventually begins to crumble as life interrupts their plans. One of the pair is a budding architect and is given the opportunity of a lifetime to help create a landmark building for a large metropolitan city – unfortunately, that city is on the other side of the world and in an entirely different time zone. Long distance relationships are hard in the best of circumstances, but when faced with time zone differences and project extensions the tension in any relationship would quickly begin to mount – as it does with our protagonists.
Told through text and silent cutscenes, the story plays out in the same way as most relationships – a fairy tale beginning is quickly cut down by reality, as our protagonists are faced with the joys and pitfalls of loving someone and the choices that inevitably stem from that love.
Is it better to take care of your needs or the needs of your partner? Where’s the balance when attempting to make all parties involved happy? These are a few of the existential questions presented throughout the game. It is a story many can identify with – to love someone but not be sure if your paths are heading in the same direction.
While the player has little say in the main narrative, the dialogue will change slightly based on the player’s choice of responses during text conversations. Still, the main issues of the relationship remain the same.
One person enjoys the city and would like the couple to live there permanently due to the wealth of opportunity present, while the other enjoys the life they have at home surrounded by nature and feels like they are being pushed to give up their dreams. One feels as if it is important to grow their career, while the other feels as if that career may mean more than their relationship. Neither side is ever shown as right or wrong, only as an evaluation of where to draw the line between fulfillment in your career versus fulfillment in your love life.
As time passes, both parties begin to wonder if the pain of spending so much time alone is worth enduring. Players will take the reins of both characters as they navigate their feelings of doubt, anger, pain, and worry will traversing a series of increasingly intricate puzzles; allowing players to better understand each character’s point of view as they progress.
A Fold Apart is a thought-provoking look at how our words can hurt others – whether we meant them to be harmful or not – especially in the age of texting. Specifically, the game highlights the importance of communication in a relationship. As time progresses each person increasingly begins to doubt the other’s intentions and their dedication, leading to mixed messages and lies to avoid more confrontation. In reality, these choices only lead to more anger and sadness.
While the story is the main focus of A Fold Apart, it is a puzzle game at heart. The puzzles could easily have been simplistic as the story would have been enough to keep most players engaged through the 3 or so hours of play time, but instead Lightning Rod Games has crafted a unique new form of puzzle which consistently kept me engaged.
Each area you traverse is essentially a static image which can be manipulated like paper. Players can flip, fold, and rotate the image to create alternate routes and to avoid obstacles. It is wonderfully different from any other puzzle game that I have played, and thankfully the developers keep new ways of manipulating the images coming up until the last few minutes.
A Fold Apart is well worth checking out. The unique puzzle structure combined with an emotional story about love – both for a partner and yourself – helps this short yet memorable game stand out among a crowded marketplace of puzzle games.
A Fold Apart is available now on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Apple Arcade, and PC. Special thanks to Lightning Rod Games for providing Fan Fest News with a review code.