|Game: Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Developer: Upper One Games, E-Line Media
Publisher: E-Line Media
Release Date: Nov 18, 2014
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating: 7/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 6/10
Replay Value: 6/10
Never Alone is an action-adventure puzzle platformer in 2.5D that will take you through a wonderful folk story told by the Iñupiat (Alaska Natives) through the ages. While I’m not familiar with the story itself, so I can’t speak for how close it is to the original or how well adapted it was, I can say it is (at least in so far as I played it) definitely a very beautiful story, with gorgeous graphics and sound effects/music to match.
Visually, the game is striking. Playing it… it leaves a lot to be desired.
In Never Alone you switch between two characters: a young girl named Nuna and an Arctic Fox, who go in search of the source of a neverending blizzard in order to stop it and save her people. The puzzles are fairly average, and the controls for the game aren’t what I would call the most comfortable ever but they are also not too bad (WASD, space, and a couple other keys)… when they work. For you see, as beautiful as the game is, the performance leaves a lot to be desired.
It took 4 levels of menu to reach the detailed video settings, and even at its lowest, it performed poorly on my computer. This is rather undesirable, particularly when your introduction to the game involves being chased by a polar bear who likes to glitch back and forth when performance falls, and having to jump lots. Failure to run from it or jump properly results in your death and having to begin from the last checkpoint. Or, you know, glitching the game and running as an invisible form until you reach the fox and then running on and on and having to restart yourself because that’s clearly getting you nowhere…
The game does have many glitches and annoyances. Walls are sometimes impossible to jump onto, the camera can become uncomfortable, the fox can become a little bit unhelpful, you may fall forever from the map, and you will die because of all of these… a lot. It’s one of those games that when it works, it’s a wonder to play for the story and visuals, but when it doesn’t you just want to flip a table and never touch it again.
If you manage to get through the entire eight chapters, you will be rewarded by unlocking the entirety of a documentary on the Iñupiat. What little I managed to unlock of it looked both interesting and very well done, but as beautiful as the game was, the annoyances were much greater than my desire to watch the documentary.
All in all, for the story, looks and sounds, and the documentary, as well as the obvious interest in making more people aware of the Iñupiat, I would like to rate this game higher; but the amount of times low performance and glitches caused my death ended up bumping it down quite a bit. If you have a low specs PC I would definitely not recommend you try it. If you have a decent PC you may still get some glitches, but if you’re interested in the story, it might be worth seeing if it works.