Aug 31, 2014

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Never Alone: First Impressions

Never Alone: First Impressions


Never Alone is a puzzle platformer that tells the story of Nuna, a young Iñupiaq girl and an Arctic fox as they brave the harsh Arctic environment.  Its unique storyline utilizes the gaming medium to shed light on native Alaskan culture while captivating players through its gameplay and unique art style.  Never Alone finds its way onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC this Fall.

Never Alone is being developed by Upper One Games and published by E-Media.  Upper One Games consists of industry veterans with Iñupiaq elders and storytellers to bring native Alaskan culture to a new generation.  “Video games are powerful tools for making the history, tradition and culture of indigenous peoples relevant to both the next generation of Native people and the rest of the world,” said Gloria O’Neill, who is both president and CEO of Upper One Games and Cook Inlet Tribal Council.  And that is definitely the case with the demo.


In the demo showcased at Pax Prime 2014, the gameplay showcased the cooperative mechanics between Nuna and the fox.  Right from the beginning, Never Alone emphasizes the relationship between Nuna and the Fox while also shedding light on native Alaskan culture.  On one hand, Nuna needs the abilities of the fox to progress through the level.  On the other, the fox cannot progress without Nuna.  In other words, they need each other.  The Arctic fox has the ability to summon spirits that act as bridges that help Nuna and the fox progress through the level.  There are also cliffs and ledges that Nuna will need the help of the Arctic fox and its abilities to progress through the level together.  Though there were no boss battles or any enemies to fight, the environment itself was enough of a challenge to hinder your progress as any enemy or boss.  One lapse of concentration and you may find yourself thrown back a ways and if you think you’re safe hanging onto a ledge think again.  Both characters have a limit to how long both characters can hang onto a ledge.  As you progress through the level, you do unlock little video excerpts that act as developer diaries and include insight on the influence of native Alaskan culture on the concept of the game.

Overall, the gameplay in Never Alone was fairly simple and challenging at the same time but the relationship between Nuna and the Arctic fox is clear.  For an indie game, the graphics were incredible and the art is both simple and beautiful.  Definitely a title to go after this fall.  In the meantime, here’s a trailer to show you some of that gameplay.

[Source: Never Alone]