A REVIEW BY THEDRAGONSNICHE
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is a platform, adventure game that takes place in the harsh climate of the tundra while facing a catastrophic blizzard that perpetually weighs you down as you trod through the frozen tundra in order to stop the blizzard from destroying your village. You play as a girl named Nunu and her companion, an all-white coated Artic fox. Fox were believed to bring joy and be excellent companions in the Alaskan climate to guide and aid people away from danger. You use what is called a Bola which is an ancient weapon that was used by Native American tribes to hunt for duck which an elderly man humbly gives you, the bola, as a reward for finding his drum he lost. Drums are considered the pinnacle and way of life of Native American tribes, the Iñupiat. The spirituality and belief in pantheism, that all living things and animate objects possesses a soul and a nature of some type is represented in the early parts of the game through spirits controlled by the fox that helps you get to heights, ledges, platforms, cliffs, ladders and hills you are unable to reach normally in the game playing as Nunu.
Nunu is an emotional, devastated and vivacious girl. How would you feel if in real-life you were from a native tribe and someone who was a foreign alien, unwelcomed as an adversary, destroyed your hometown including all women, men and children alike? You would be distraught just like Nunu is at times. Nunu is at a loss because this fox seems to be her one and only companion. We don’t know the whereabouts of her parents nor if she has any siblings.
Never Alone is based around a true and real tale of Native American tribes, Alaskan natives to be more specific whom have experienced severe forms of climate change throughout the aging of glaciers and a great devastation of a blizzard in which at the beginning of the game has been coming from an unknown source. You will battle your way through your adversaries of an opposing tribe wanting to take you hostage, attempting to kill you, forcing you to always be on the run from imminent danger.
Gameplay (Features, controls, graphics and mechanics)
This game has much heart and dedication towards being a true to life amalgamation of Native American cultures.
Along the way they have this very unique feature called cultural insights. Cultural insights are history behind the developers and publishers covering history of the Alaskan people mostly talked about called the Iñupiat. We learn through this about their weapons, way of life, spirituality, heart of their community, sharing, management of resources, simplistic; primitive way of life and about the various types of people and philosophies that the community holds dear to them. The presentation of the cultural insights is illustrated through descriptive imagery of photos of their heritage and way of life. There are interviews in the form of a documentary in order to educate the gaming community whom may have not known anything prior about foreign cultures and the way in which the Alaskan natives and Native Americans live. Usually we are too caught up only within our own society, we forget of the primitive and more simplistic ones out there that care more about resources than how much entertainment we have, wealth we accumulate in our life and our own accolades. This brings a mist of fresh air in a gaming culture that in the present day have resorted to liking more simplistic games that are considered fun and mindless entertainment rather than the latter being educationally based.
Real-time Environment Trajectory System
I am calling the climate and real-time weather effects a real-time environment trajectory system because the weather is so perfectly done throughout this game with precise timing and accuracy that it becomes a 1:1 ratio relating to real-life mechanics. What I mean by this is as the blizzard blows from the east, it perfectly breaks for just the right duration of time giving you only a second to breathe before having to get up again trudging your way through the unforgiving blizzard storm. It will usually start from the east, give you a small breather, then, it picks back up steadily at full force in the West. The trajectory part of this feature is used when you need the precise angle pointed at a certain degree and angle in order to make it to new platforms and later in the game, new ladders. That is, you have to use the environment to your advantage because some jumps you can’t make until the storm carries you towards that next platform, ladder or step you need to reach. The end goal becomes to restore back your village and the environment by protecting your Alaskan Native American people by defeating and defending against all your enemies.
Story: The story is magnificent, superb. Although the voice acting in Never Alone is good, I do have one criticism. The primary disadvantage I see within the voice acting is I wish it was more in the old-fashioned documentary style. It would make the game’s story more enticing, intriguing if the voice acting was more in a documentary format like the cultural insights were.
The last feature we will be discussing is the single player co-op feature:
Single player co-op:
Sometimes you will see modern platformers implement a method in which you have to control both characters at different times when placed in different situations. You have to work together in order to get certain tasks done. For instance, the main character Nunu can move heavy crates while the fox is good at jumping. Use what skills you have to your best ability. The fox is the only one that can control these spirits which guide and levitate you to new heights and to new places. It reminds me of the co-op system used much like the horror game Resident Evil Revelations 2 when I used to play horror games.
The controls are smooth, fluid, responsive and accurate. I recommend like in all platformers to use a gamepad to get the best results and experience when playing.
Beautiful, lust and gorgeous visuals reminiscent of Journey by Thatgamecompany. The wind and lush snowy tundra reminds me of the antithesis of its climate in Journey. The only graphical glitch you may experience time to time is wall glitching only when falling under a platform usually when instead you are supposed to die instantly. Sometimes your character will just be stuttering back and forth. If you experience this, it is very easy to continue where you left off from your last checkpoint. Although I did encounter this when falling off of some edges where I did not immediately die, it is only a minor glitch and will not dissuade your experience.
The Good & Bad:
- Gorgeous Visuals
- Amazing, breathtaking emotional experience from cultural insights to the story
- Excellent use of Phenomenology in use of perception, visual stimulation and story cues
- Awesome Native American Alaskan Iñupiat background information
- No major technological glitches, bugs
- Timeless and short
- Could have better voice acting in documentary vocal form
- It could have a better artificial intelligence design where they could have used prompt commands like follow, stay, be careful and of course a hug command where it would be possible to pat the fox on the head when the fox has done a good job.