Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

Loon spiritI have a fondness for winter and the North that I can’t quite describe. Falling snow is beautiful, cold temperatures are invigorating, the silence is serenity, the northern lights are downright breathtaking…the world somehow feels more real and alive when it’s below freezing.

I know I’m in the minority and that most people would rather have sunshine and balmy weather year round. Perhaps that’s why I have a certain fascination with the Inuit people. After all, they’ve lived with the snow and ice for a very long time.

You can then imagine my delight when I saw Never Alone on Steam. Here was an Inupiat (Alaskan Inuit) fable about a girl and an arctic fox told through a video game. I bought it in an instant and I’m glad I did.

I could tell you about how it’s a puzzle platformer that could be played as a single player or co-op. But really, that’s just semantics. What makes this game different is its story.

Half of the experience comes from the narrator telling the story in the Inupiat language (with subtitles). It’s not very hard to imagine sitting around a campfire and listening to this tale while blizzard winds howl outside. It’s the visuals and the gameplay that complete the other half of the experience, the one where you are inside the fable, guiding the pair through a treacherous quest to save a village.

The environments feel very authentic, even reminding me of some of the winters I’ve experienced. The spirits that you encounter however, they bring a sense of otherworldliness and ethereal beauty. Even if you think that snow and ice are desolate, it’s impossible to deny that the spirits make the world come alive.

What gives this game its title, I believe, is the bond between Nuna and Fox. There are obstacles that they could not overcome on their own but by working together, there’s nothing they can’t do. Their story is heart-breaking at times but what matters is one is never without the other.

In addition to the story are short videos about the Inupait culture that are unlocked by finding owls in game. Hearing and seeing Inupiat people talk about their lives and their heritage is quite inspirational.

But enough of my ramblings. I’ll finish with some screenshots I took while playing Never Alone and my recommendation to buy the game yourself and give it a play.

November 23, 2014 No comments

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