Review: Never Alone (Kisima Innitchuna) (PlayStation 4)
- Release Date (NA): November 18, 2014
- Release Date (EU): November 19, 2014
- Release Date (JP): November 20, 2014
- Publisher: E-Line Media
- Developer: Upper One Games
- Genres: Adventure/Platform
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
- Also For: Computer, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
A Spiritual Journey
Once in a blue moon a title comes along that is both original and unique with the power to completely immerse us into its world. Never Alone is that game. A new IP and debut title from a small team of developers who have spent the last two and a half years liaising with the Alaskan Native community to create a game based around traditional stories, arts and cultures of the Iñupiat people.
We are introduced to a hunter girl named Nuna who embarks on a journey of discovery to uncover what is causing the current heavy blizzards that are sweeping through her village and causing problems for the natives, stopping them from hunting. After setting out, she meets an Artic Fox who has the power to call on the spirits from ancient Iñupiaq lore to help Nuna on her quest.
The story and history of the game are truly fascinating and each chapter is bookended by beautifully animated Scrimshaw cutscenes. I won't delve any further into the story as it is easily spoilable and I feel you must experience it first hand to really feel and appreciate the overall impact of the tale.
Created within the Unity engine, the game's visuals are gorgeous, the animations flow really well and overall the world is a sight to behold. Audio work is excellent featuring an often exuberant and chilling soundtrack with the entire game's script being spoken in the native Iñupiaq tongue, accompanied by English subtitles narrating the adventure. It brings an authenticity to the story that could only be achieved by involving the Iñupiat community at every stage of development.
The player can control Nuna or the Fox instantly at the press of a button. You can also play the game cooperatively with 2 players, one as Nuna and one as the Fox. Nuna can run, jump and move crates to gain access to higher ground and the Fox can wall jump to higher sections and drop ropes to enable Nuna to climb up to the otherwise inaccessible cliffs. When controlling the Fox at certain parts of the terrain, a spirit will appear and manifest itself as a physical form creating more platforming options for Nuna to utilize. Strong arctic winds are a hindrance that can force Nuna and the Fox to their deaths, but when the winds blow in the opposite direction, they can actually help Nuna clear a further distance when jumping forward. Chase scenes are thrilling whether it's a huge polar bear after some dinner or the tale's Manslayer trying to steal the Bola.
The Bola is Nuna's only form of offense and is used as a throwing weapon. It consists of interconnected cords with weights on the ends and is mostly used to break various obstacles that block the duo's path, or to force spirits to show themselves.
Platforming is perfectly executed and is reminiscent of 2010's Limbo. If you have played that title you will kind of know what to expect here but with more emphasis on co-op puzzle solving. Initially I found the game to be a bit too easy but it switches up the formula drastically about half way through the story which in turn increases the difficulty.
Never Alone was a real pleasure to play through. Although quite short (I finished it in one sitting), I thoroughly enjoyed the story the game so brilliantly lead me through and found the tale not only inspiring, but educational at the same time. It offers a rare glimpse into a culture and community that is practically unknown to the rest of the world and this interactive adventure is a fantastic way to engage the player's mind. Never Alone really is a work of art that you must play through yourself to fully appreciate.
I'd like to say Quyanaq! (Thankyou) to Upper One Games and E-Line Media for providing us with review code of the game and also to the Iñupiat people for sharing such a wonderful tale that I otherwise would probably never get to experience.
+ Unique moving story
+ Beautiful visuals
+ Educational and insightful
- Very short
- Controls can become clunky in the final third
Never Alone features a beautifully realised world to showcase the adventure. The artwork, atmosphere and visuals are stunning and really breath life into the tale of Nuna and the Iñupiat people.
Tight level design and well executed platforming makes Never Alone a joy to play. Initially it felt a bit too easy but the difficulty ramps up in the final third.
The game can be cleared in a single sitting and unless you miss one of the 24 unlockable Cultural Insights on the initial run, the only real reason to return is to relive the adventure or try out the co-op mode with a second player.
out of 10
(not an average)
Never Alone is a charming tale of companionship and exploration. It opens a window to a world rarely seen and is a unique mesmerizing experience.