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NEVER ALONE Review: A Beautiful Tale About Recovering What Once Was

Never Alone, also known as Kisima Inŋitchuŋa, is a 2D puzzle-platformer game developed by Upper One Games, and it tells the tale of an Iñupian girl named Nuna, and a snow fox trying to understand why sudden blizzards started appearing, they must do it fast as possible, because everyone is starving due to the mysterious winds that don’t let Hunters do their job.

Upper One Games is mostly known for being the first indigenous-owned video game developer, which task’s singularly focus on showing the world the Eskimo people’s origins, beliefs and traditions.

Never Alone is about fighting impossible chances, and friendship, it’s not a new theme, it may even be considered a cliché, but there’s no denying that games like The Last of Us and Shadow of The Colossus weren’t prevented from being the great, even amazing games they are because of that.

Story: When a girl meets a snow fox in order to save the world

Like most Indie games, Never Alone tries to establish a simple, but continuously engaging plot, and it tells the story of a young female hunter that lived happily with her Iñupian community, until the day when endless blizzards started showing in her village. Because they couldn’t hunt, and therefore couldn’t eat, the young girl, named Nuna, starts a quest in which she must find the source of the blizzards.

But in the exact moment she started her journey, Nuna got attacked by a polar bear, that was then defeated, or better said tricked, by a so far unknown Snow Fox, the two of them then got best buddies, and started a long relationship where they would protect each other’s back in any occasion.

The game has 13 chapters, and it’s not a long game, far from that even, but the fact it takes advantage of almost every single second to make it unforgettable whether by some really cool background, or just an interaction between our protagonists, makes it a very special game, specially if you remember that it is Upper One Games’ first project.

Now that we have a premise, all we need is an adventure, and oh boy, what an adventure we have. Besides the obvious platform puzzles that the game prepares us at the beginning, a lot of quick action scenes, like fighting a fire throwing magician, are indeed sure to happen! But I think that my favourite ones must be when our protagonists must each use their abilities to help each other out, in order to proceed in the game.

By the way, the entire story is told by an Iñupian narrator, and it discloses an actual famous tale among the many indigenous communities that live in Alaska.

Good Old Frosty Gameplay

As it was mentioned before, like one paragraph above this one, the game is mostly consisted by puzzles, but my problem with them is that my 5-year-old brother managed to complete them by instinct, there is not even one supposedly called puzzle that made me think twice about my plan throughout the entirety of the game, and I wasn’t expecting a Portal, but Never Alone or what ever game Upper One Games decide to make afterwards, should definitely have some more time given to the main features of the game.

The parts that aren’t an easy peasy, but fun puzzle, are most probably a platform bit, and this is where the gameplay part of the game shines for me, as though their movements may be similar, the protagonists run and climb walls in different ways, meaning that you can make some really fun platforming, which I could call of a puzzle, if they actually presented to me some kind of mental challenge.

There are 3 bossed in total, two of which you’ll be facing multiple times, and though the last one, which is a Shadow of Colossus like giant, there’s actually no fighting, just a lot of climbing and running away from, which is not particularly bad, just inferior when compared to the other bossed which made you feel pumped while shooting with your bola, Nuna’s weapon, and jumping over with the Fox.

Also, Nuna has this weapon given by an animal spirit that is somewhat important to the game’s plot, and you can use it to activate platforms and break through ice, but the way it is used is just too awkward and hard, but not intentionally hard, awkwardly hard, specially when you’re supposed to use it run from a guy shooting flame balls at you.

Visuals and Soundtrack

When you have a game that is set on Alaska, you better bet that Auroras Borealis and more fantastic sights are to be shown. Never Alone, unlike the majority of the games we play these days, definitely shows a unique art style, a sort of mix between bar figurines and a Pixar Movie. The backgrounds indicate the amount of time given to draw this magic world aswell, because it represents real places, like the Three Islands, which is a hugely important place for the Iñupian people, and the game assures to show you that by throwing to you dead children that are trying rip your head off, you know, normal Rated E kind of stuff…

But going through the many places the story is told was definitely pleasant, due to the marvelous color plates and the beautiful contrasts between the wind gusts and the background.

The soundtrack is nothing but vague, yes it does the job of describing what the player is going through, but because the game is mostly peaceful , you’ll be hearing nothing but a one-dimensional sound, even on some fighting moments.

Overall

Never Alone isn’t supposed to be hard, nor long; it’s just a simple game, with a simple message, you can simply beat it in 3 hours, and I simply advice you to buy it. Whether you want to learn more about the Iñupian, or because you’re a fan of great linear games, Never Alone is an accomplished, engaging, and addictive platformer ready to be enjoyed.

4 out of 5 stars

4 out of 5 stars

 

Cover image via

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Categories: Video Game Reviews

Author:Artur Araújo

I'm a 15 year old game journalist, whose currently in a never-ending quest to find the Shangri-La of Non- Microtransactional games.

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One Comment on “NEVER ALONE Review: A Beautiful Tale About Recovering What Once Was”

  1. 04/21/2015 at 3:36 PM #

    Downloaded this but have yet to play it. May have to move it up the roster.

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