Just when you think that platformers aren’t going to get any better, one comes along that questions your judgement. Never Alone, by Upper One Games, is one of those.
Education in games is all or nothing. Either a game is going to teach you something or absolutely nothing. I loved the way that Never Alone gave you the option while also making you curious about why things are happening.
You play as a young Iñupiat girl who ventures out on her own to find the source of an eternal blizzard that threatens her entire community. Along the way, shes meets up with a fox that saves her life and becomes her partner throughout the story. That’s kind of cool on its own since most foxes I ever encounter run away. Or attack me. I’m not sure, I don’t spend a lot of time outside. Either way, the interaction between the girl and the fox is pretty freakin adorable and a reason in itself to play Never Alone.
One of the best parts about Never Alone is the local co-op mode. I don’t have a lot of friends so…I haven’t actually played co-op, but it looks to be a lot of fun. One person plays the fox, the other plays the girl, and you work together to complete the mystery of the game.
If you’re like me and have to play the game alone, it’ll take a little more time since you play both parts together. With a button that switches characters, the puzzles are challenging and get progressively harder. Some of them are frustratingly hard and require exact precision which is probably the only thing I didn’t really like about the game..
Nearly 40 Alaska Native elders, storytellers and community members contributed to the development of Never Alone. The entire game is narrated in the native language with subtitles and I kind of want to meet the nice sounding old man who did it. Never Alone won the Best Debut Game at the BAFTA awards and winning GoTY at the Games for Change Festival is what made me want to try it in the first place.
I would describe the environment as almost surreal. Spirits pop up to help and you almost find yourself wishing they’d help you in real life. The mood is dark, but not dismal, and it makes you excited for what might come next. The story weaving is masterful and you really get into wanting to save everything dear to this little girl. Even failing a puzzle and dying brings forth emotions with the girl crying out if the wolf dies and the wolf quietly whimpering if the girl dies.
Never Alone was available for free during the month of April and I know the majority of you downloaded it and never played it so here’s a good enough excuse to do so. It’s also available on Xbox One, Wii U, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS so you have plenty of options.