Long distance relationships are difficult, especially when they’re of the romantic variety. They take a toll on people when you don’t see each other every day, and your schedules are different from one another. Making it work is such a challenge, and it can be an uphill battle at times. Working around each other’s schedules to even find that one moment to have an honest and earnest conversation can be rough.
That’s the core of A Fold Apart, Lightning Rod Games is telling an earnest story about the difficulties of long distance relationships. In the case of Sam and Alex, they live two completely different lives but they are still romantically involved. Sam is an engineer living in the city, and Alex is a teacher living out in the country. The beginning cutscenes showed each of them living their day-to-day, and slowly shifting to their phones which say “Sam misses Alex” and vice versa. From there, A Fold Apart unfolds and shows how they adjust to deal with this in their everyday life.
In the beginning of the demo I was shown, I was given four options for the gender for Sam and Alex. This allows for representation based on their sexual preference before they embark on this journey. While it doesn’t cover the wide array of the spectrum, it stills shows significant strides to become more inclusive.
The demo opened with Sam falling asleep at his desk, and soon dreaming of when he would be reunited with Alex. He quickly appeared in her dream floating, and drew Sam away from her desk. Text popped up in foreground asking of when they would reunite, and how they have been thinking of each other. Even though Sam was dreaming about reuniting with Alex, the emotions there felt genuine. They genuinely longed to be reunited, and it was really touching and it showed just much they really missed each other.
The design of A Fold Apart is centered around folding paper, each puzzle has you folding paper and undoing those folds to access areas which just seemed out of reach. It’s a game which requires you think to about the versatility of the paper material, and what it allows you to do. Flipping it over and folding over feels easy and natural, which allows for every scene you cross in the demo to look like a sheet of paper over a starry night. Further reinforcing the idea that one of the characters was sleeping in that particular moment.
Music in this particular scene was soft and melancholic, the touches of piano really stood out in particular. It wasn’t in your face, but had a soft dreamy feel to it, perfectly pairing with the games narrative. When I was talking about the composition with Mark and Steven from Lightning Rod games, they described that the pitch from their composer Riley Koenig was “Up mixed with La La Land.” The sad somber tone crossed with the joyful nature really hits a strong note, and it makes the emotions of the characters hit harder and closer to home as well.
A Fold Apart is a game which is centered around relationships and how they develop. The combination of that and what it does with paper allows for unique puzzle design. Sam and Alex are struggling to make it work, and they long for each other. The game’s style highlights two colors, orange and blue, and you navigate through their worlds. Long distance relationships are tougher than people think, and the way this story is being told is genuine and true to form for this type of relationship. The story of Sam and Alex hits home, and I am extremely eager to see how it unfolds later in this year.