NeverAlone banner

Never Alone Arctic Collection Review – Nintendo Switch

Never Alone, from E-Line Media, sees you follow the journey of Nuna and an extremely skilled snow fox on a journey to uncover the source of a terrible blizzard that threatens to wipe out their village. You travel the world, encountering numerous dangers and surprises along the way. You also get to learn a lot about the rich culture of the Iñupiaq people of Alaska. Did I go into a game wanting to learn something? No, no I did not. But I let it play out and it was pretty damn fascinating. It also helps immerse you into the game properly.

Learning whilst battling a blizzard

The Arctic Collection of Never Along includes some additional extras from the main game. There’s the ‘Never Alone: Foxtales’ DLC featuring a new story and three additional levels. And then there is the game’s original soundtrack.

You play as Nuna and Fox as they search for the source of an eternal blizzard that threatens the survival of everything they have ever known. It is an atmospheric puzzle platformer developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people. The game draws from a traditional story that has been shared across generations. There’s plenty to learn and enjoy along the way.

Never Alone Switch Screenshot 01

The Game

The game is a lovely looking side scroller, where you can switch between playing as Nuna or Fox. It’d make a pretty decent two-player game because of this. On single-player, you need to make use of both characters, switching between them in order to progress through a level. Although one benefit to single-player is that when the game is controlling the other character, you know when a blizzard is coming if you keep an eye on them. They handily drop down to the floor in preparation, which means you know you have to brace against it as well. The controls are simple enough and switching between Nuna or Fox is just a button click. There’s nothing groundbreaking here in gameplay, but there doesn’t need to be.

There are a load of hidden collectables throughout that allow you to unlock a variety of video clips that feature Alaska Native elders and community members. There are also ones for historians that give you specific details for aspects of the game’s story. It’s a nice little touch that might not be for everyone, but I certainly appreciated it. The result of unlocking these though makes the game feel more immersive. Details and lore not explored through gameplay get given this supplemental content. And with the option to watch these videos later on, you can decide for yourself how much you want to watch and when. This allows you to simply play through the game if that’s all you’d like to do.

Staying on the topic of the videos, they are very well crafted. Each one is a short but well-detailed account of its subject. They detail first-hand experiences of things that few of us will ever know or experience. Sometimes the simplest of things are wildly different to others. Importantly, the clips lend further meaning to the gameplay too. You learn about the spiritual connection to animals, to the Northern Lights and to their land. It adds deeper meaning to each level you play through and makes it more than just a game.

Never Alone Switch Screenshot 02

Look & Sound

Throughout the game, you can’t help but notice that there’s an ominous black border around the screen. At times it’s subtle, but it’s always there. There are also moments of clarity where the game looks crisp and beautiful. But there are many times when there’s a slight blur, a haze, over the screen. It’s a touch that really helps throw you into the game. You’re in the middle of a blizzard, so of course, your vision won’t be the best. A lot of thought has gone into how this is presented and it works. The set designs are stunning, even though most of the time you don’t get to see them in all their glory. The joy is that you don’t need to, as that would take away from the atmosphere that the game is creating.

Never Alone is all about the atmosphere and the journey. Everything in Never Alone is atmospheric. The never-ending blizzard threat is incredibly well done though look alone.

The sound design is subtle yet mesmerising. The environment takes the forefront here, each crunch of the snow under your boot, or the distant hoot of an owl accentuated by the game’s muted design. As a result, when the music does ramp up, during moments of beauty or tension, the effect is all the more powerful. The game is a true wonder to behold, effectively conveying the beauty and danger of its harsh environment all at once.

Never Alone Switch Screenshot 06

Length & Replayability

Never Alone is not a very long game, but that length is well suited to the story it tells. Too long and you could lose the immersion that the game is going for.

The game is very simplistic though and so isn’t rewarding. Once it’s complete, there’s no compulsion to play it again because of this. So whilst its length suits the game, the style of gameplay lets it down. Especially when it comes to replayability. I’ve done what I needed. I’ve watched the videos. There’s no real challenge. Nothing that makes me want to go back and do better. One of the games main strengths is the videos, but that also hinders it as that builds the game up when you first play it. But afterwards, you’ll skip them and lose that aspect of the gameplay. That in turn loses a huge part of what makes Never Alone the game that it is. And there simply isn’t enough in just the gameplay for that to work.

Conclusions

Never Alone is a stunning game that I would highly recommend people experience for themselves. It’s an experience. It’s a shame that the gameplay doesn’t reach the heights that it could, but there’s enough here that for one playthrough, it’s enjoyable. The world, the atmosphere and the history behind everything you experience more than makes up for the shortcomings in the actual gameplay. The culture that is so proudly displayed is wonderful and I’d highly recommend that players don’t skip the scenes. Watch them, enjoy them, and really immerse yourself in the game.

There are stunning environments that pair perfectly with the deep meaning behind every aspect of the world. It’s a truly unique experience. It’s just a shame that there are shortcomings in the gameplay that otherwise would have made this a brilliant game. Because of that though, I can only score this a 6/10.

A code was kindly provided for us to provide an honest review for this.

We Score This Game

rating score: 6

Good!

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x