GAME NAME: Never Alone
DEVELOPER(S): Upper One Games
PUBLISHER(S): E-Line Media
RELEASE DATE(S): November 18th, 2014
It is very rare that a game is created and based around folklore from certain cultures around the world. Never Alone, also known as Kisima Inŋitchuŋa is a puzzle platformer where you control an Iñupiaq girl and a white Arctic Fox. The little Alaskan girl is named Nuna and one day realized that there was a bad blizzard coming towards her village that will prevent her people from hunting for food. Nuna was so curious about where this blizzard is coming from and why it is happening that she decided to go on a journey to find out the source. This is where the the indigenous Alaskan folklore comes into play with some well known traditional stories from Alaska like the Blizzard Man and the Sky People. Each moment in the game is narrated very well by one of the members of their development team who is an Alaskan Native.
You control Nuna with the analog and can jump with “X” to make it over pits or from one iceberg to the next. The puzzles within this game are very team oriented and with that it offers a Co-op option where one person can play as Nuna and the other as the Fox. If you don’t have a person to take advantage of the local only Co-op function then playing alone can still work with using the “Triangle” button to switch between Nuna and Fox when needed to solve the puzzles. A little after the beginning you will come across an owl man that asks for his missing drum and will reward you if you retrieve it for him. He will then give you the “Bola”, which is an object to throw and either destroy stuff in your path or to activate white flurries that can change into helping spirits.
There are eight chapters that you will trek through to complete the story and figure out exactly why the blizzard is happening. Never Alone has some moments when you are being chased by someone or something and have to escape without getting caught, which is definitely tense at times. There are owls spread across each chapter that will unlock insights to watch and give a better understanding of the lore of what the game is about. I was able to complete this game in a little over 2 hours and I wish there was a bit more content that kept this game going. There were a few glitches here and there that I experienced, such as Nuna glitching after a jump to a ledge and instead of climbing up she falls. That was extremely frustrating, especially during the chase scenes where time is of the essence.
The visual presentation is spot on with an intensely snow filled adventure that had animations running perfect with each gust of wind. Never Alone was created on the Unity engine and it was definitely optimized perfectly to create an astonishing experience. Voice acting was perfect with it being done in the native tongue (with subtitles), which gave it the true folklore story telling feel. The ambient sounds were fitting with your grunting to climb a ledge or with the cracking of ice beneath your feet.
Never Alone is a perfect story telling experience that has you begging for more when it ends so soon. Nuna is a great character to push the story through with her playful childish attitude with Fox to her being emotionally hurt from events occurring. This game is definitely worth playing for anyone who enjoys a good puzzle/platformer with the option of local co-op. Now that SharePlay is an option, it might be worth playing this game with that new feature on the PS4 if you don’t have anyone locally that can play it with you. I do feel that the $14.99 price tag is a bit steep and should be about $5 less, but it still is a great experience that won’t leave you feeling as though you wasted your money.