SPIRIT OF THE NORTH
By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee on December 3, 2020
Cuteness overload! That was the first feeling that came over me when I played the first minutes of a brand new game by developer Infuse Studio and publisher Merge Games, called Spirit of the North. I just loved the look and feel of the game so, naturally, I simply needed to play it!
Now, every time I saw a trailer or some other morsel of news about this game, I found myself questioning if I had already played this game. This, of course, is impossible, since the game is brand new, but still. I couldn't shake that feeling. But then I remembered that this was in fact another game, called Lost Ember, that I was thinking about. That was a beautiful game, also featuring a cute fox, with an intense story. I was convinced that Spirit of the North would give me the same experience and that it would be right up my alley. Luckily I got picked for a review copy, so let's get started!
In Spirit of the North you take control of a fox. This is an intuitive game, which means you'll discover what you have to do as you go along. There are almost no tutorials, but to be honest you don't need them. It's pretty self-explanatory what you need to do. When you start game you will be in a snowy environment, but where do you have to go? Well, during the cut-scene the camera will show you a red line of clouds in the air. So naturally, that's the direction to go in. Within minutes I will see a human body frozen to death. I have the feeling I have to do something here, but none of my controller buttons have any effect. I decided to follow the only other way forward and that's where I find a staff. There is no other way to go than back to the body and now a control button icon will appear. I push the appropriate button and set free my very first spirit! Immediately after this a diagram will show, that I found my first spirit and that there will be more spirits to be found. You see? Self-explanatory all the way!
Right after I accomplished my first task, I meet a spirit fox. We play around a bit and then it runs away, stops and then waits for me. He wants me to follow him, I assume. At some point the fox and the spirit fox will merge. This is clear because your fox now has blue highlights in its fur and you are able to use the spirit fox to activate shrines. This way you can manipulate your surroundings, which usually means opening doors, clearing a path or activate a geyser. This is the puzzle element in the game. A word of advice; always keep an eye out for blue flower fields, because these are places in which you can summon your spirit, so your fox will highlighted in blue. By the way, it's not like you have just one spirit, that's the mistake I made at the beginning. If you need to activate two shrines for example, activate the first one, run back to a blue flower field to summon another spirit. Then direct that spirit to the second shrine and activate that as well.
If you are afraid that this year won't bring us any snow, don't worry. Spirit of the North is set in a beautiful snowy environment, at least the first chapter is. And there are places that you can actually slide on ice paths! Totally perfect for this time of year! And if you go to other landscapes, don't worry, the ice glades are replaced by water slides! Together with the music and no dialogs or narrator, it's a very relaxing game without any interruptions. It comes as no surprise that this is a non-violent game and provides an overall calming experience.
Spirit of the North is a great game with a very cute fox. Let the game go idle at least once, so you will see the fox go to sleep, that's so cute! The only downside I found were the somewhat clumsy controls. In the first couple of chapters it's almost unnoticeable, but later on some agility comes into play, for example jumping from geyser to geyser. That's where it shows the controls and gameplay might need some polishing. Other than that, Spirit of the North is a truly lovely game.