Pumpkin Preview 2014: Never Alone

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Never Alone is a very interesting game. It features beautiful and haunting art, clever puzzles and sumptuous visuals. More impressive and certainly more important is the story it tells. Never Alone is based on the Inupiaq tribe traditional story Kunuuksaayuka. The developers at Upper One Games have made it their goal to create games that "the voices and richness of world cultures to create complex and fascinating game worlds."

I have only played a small piece of the game, but it's left a lasting impression. The gameplay is somewhat similar to other asymmetric co-op games. One player controls the young girl, Nuna, and the other an arctic fox. The fox is able to navigate some of the more difficult terrain and can see spirits. These spirits are the key to many of the game's puzzles. By guiding Nuna to them, she can pass over cliffs and over freezing waters. 

The arctic environment plays its own role. Harsh winds can bowl Nuna and the fox over unless they watch for signs of an incoming gust and brace against it. The water is a deathtrap to be avoided, and some of the smaller drifts and ledges can serve as shelter against the elements. In the demo we played at PAX, the active use of the environment served as a constant reminder of the unique relationship that Alaska native tribes like the Inupiaq have with the seemingly uninhabitable conditions in the far north. 

Never Alone is a game that we are keeping a close eye on. I've always believed that games are a perfect vehicle for teaching culture and keeping traditions and stories alive. Every year we lose more and more oral traditions and folklore. It is vitally important that we preserve these stories for future generations. We are very excited about Never Alone and can't wait to immerse ourselves in its story.