By Kevin "Methodone89" van Dongen on February 10, 2015
Today, we lose ourselves in a game that tells the story of a young girl, determined to save her village from a dangerous blizzard. So get ready; a story about heroism, friendship and adventure awaits.
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is the first game developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, Alaska Native people. Nearly 40 Alaska Native elders, storytellers and community members contributed to the development of the game. In Never Alone, you play as a young Iñupiat girl named “Nuna” and an arctic fox as they set out to find the source of the eternal blizzard which threatens the survival of everything they have ever known. The game is developed by Upper One Games, a for-profit subsidiary of Cook Inlet Tribal Council and the first indigenous- owned commercial game company in the United States. The development team and Alaska Native people worked hand-in-hand to deliver a great, meaningful experience.
You can play as both Nuna and the Fox in single-player mode or play cooperatively with a friend or family member as you trek through frozen tundra, leap across treacherous ice floes, swim through underwater ice caverns, and face numerous enemies both strange and familiar in the journey to save the girl’s village.
Never Alone is narrated by a master storyteller in the spoken Iñupiaq language. While you can’t understand what the storyteller is saying (thank god for subtitles) it sounds really good, and adds that extra bit of flavor to the story. Never Alone has a strong story and gameplay mechanics; the levels are cleverly designed and look just beautiful. The game takes you deep into the frozen world of Alaska and even some other locations. You’ll face Polar bears and other enemies while you make it across the frozen tundra, on your heroic quest to save your village.
The art style of Never Alone fits the game well; the black and white clips with the background story look like they were lifted directly out of a storybook. To give these stories an extra special feeling you can unlock a documentary style videos which will give you extra information about the Iñupiat. Elders, storytellers, and other members of the Alaska Native community share stories and wisdom about their culture, values and the amazing Arctic world, encountered by players. These videos are one of the best additions to this game and really enriches the entire Never Alone experience.
The frozen tundra with its icy winds is a traitorous playing field! With blizzards around every corner you’ll have to stop and slow down in order to move forward. You’ll have to use these blizzards to your own benefit in order to jump further than humanly possible. Never Alone is a great platform puzzler and the fact that you play both as Nuna and the Fox makes for a great variation in gameplay. As Nuna, you’ll climb ladders and ropes, move heavy obstacles, and throw her bola at targets to solve puzzles. While playing as the Fox you can fit through small areas that Nuna can’t reach, scramble up walls, and jump to great heights. You’ll have to mix the playstyle of both to reach the end. But have no fear, the Spirits are on your side and will help you and guide your way through the tundra. They’ll help you reach greater heights, cross rivers and seas and even climb walls. When you, after witnessing a tragic event, finally reach the end of the story, the Spirits have even more up their sleeves. "What?, you may ask. Well, you'll just have to find out all by yourself by playing Never Alone.
Never Alone is a great game with an even greater story, reaching the end of your adventure is rewarding. The added background story through storytelling and interviews add a huge amount of information to the game and makes the experience you’ll have while playing Never Alone even richer.
Upper One Games
November 18, 2014