Long distance relationships are hard. I’m no stranger to them, and I’m sure now, with COVID-19 forcing many to stay at home, there are even more relationships having to suffer under the strain of isolation. A Fold Apart is about the struggles of long distance relationships, and the effects it has on those in them. It’s a poignant puzzler which had an acute effect on me emotionally, while managing to employ a unique puzzle mechanic based on folding paper.
A Fold Apart is about two people whose career paths have separated them. One, a teacher, stays behind, while the architect moves away to a city to work on a months-long project. Their struggles are represented by literal chasms that must be bridged by folding scenes like paper. The story is told through texts between the two characters, and more often, the characters’ own inner thoughts.
As with any puzzle game, mileage may vary. The puzzles in A Fold Apart are never extremely difficult, but they are often extremely clever. I never lost my amusement with flipping the scene like a moving photograph that I could fold or unfold at will, and make it how I want it. Many mechanics in A Fold Apart are introduced gradually, and eventually you will be able to spin the scene, and fold it from its sides and corners.
While some puzzle games’ challenges feel insurmountable, I felt like with enough fiddling, I could solve anything A Fold Apart threw at me. There were only so many combinations, and often the game itself spoiled whether you’re heading in the right direction, especially when a new mechanic is being introduced. In that case, there would often be a message explicitly telling you when you failed a challenge—one of a few issues with the information that is displayed to the player. Another is the rotate arrows, which go away when in rotate mode, which is initially confusing.
I played A Fold Apart mainly with a controller, and when I gained the ability to fold corners, I struggled being able to fold exactly how I wanted. Using a mouse solves that problem, though I stuck it out with my Xbox controller, and though I would have the occasional frustration, it was playable.
Even with the few problems I had, A Fold Apart has some genuinely fun puzzles. Having said that, there was rarely a time I felt like a genius, as in some other puzzles games. But A Fold Apart is just as much about its story, and its depiction of the struggles of a long distance relationship, as it is about its puzzle aspect.
The story in A Fold Apart is heartfelt, and even sometimes a little stressful. The characters go through most of the emotions you would expect when circumstances force two people who are in love to be apart: anger, sorrow, regret, doubt, etc. The writing is great, and really captures those desperate longings, and the constant doubt.
A Fold Apart is colorful, and pleasant. The music is quite good, and is a perfect complement to the various highs and lows that the couple go through. The art style is bright, and the world appears as though it is constructed from paper.
The character’s thoughts are shown as large text that appears on screen, but that text ends up looking ugly, and despite the clever use of orientation, detracts from the overall aesthetic. I really enjoyed A Fold Apart, and I’m impressed with its depiction of a long distance relationship. It really does take work, and the paper folding mechanic is an excellent representation of that. And while the puzzles weren’t the hardest, they were fun, and clever. A Fold Apart is available today on Windows, Mac, Apple Arcade, iOS, and Nintendo Switch.