Never Alone: We come from the land of the ice and snow

Never Alone is also known as ‘Kisima Inŋitchuŋa’ the Iñupiaq translation of the games title.  We mention this because it serves to illustrate that Never Alone is unique in the videogame landscape. It’s a game that’s been made with a clearly defined ethical standpoint to be as inclusive and respectful of the Alaskan Native culture as it possibly can. The whole game has been put together by a 12 person strong development team, who kept in constant contact with Alaskan storytellers throughout the project to keep their development informed. It was a balanced production all the way through, something bigger developers can lose sight of with a large, fractured team.

Upper One Games and E-Line Media began their partnership with Never Alone in hopes to lay the foundations for a series that shares and celebrates cultures around the world, with Never Alone aimed at exploring the universal theme of what it is to be human in this world, and how stories can translate across generations and cultures through their messages alone. The game ships with a documentary, too: as you earn achievements or trophies, you unlock chapters of a beautifully filmed study of the local culture, featuring interviews with the developers, and local storytellers, wildlife-spotting scenes and amazing time lapses of the arctic wonderland in which Never Alone is set.

ANOTHER LEVEL
THE LEVEL DESIGN is reminiscent of Limbo on a superficial level the art design (which came from original bone etchings done by Iñupiaq natives) is reminiscent of Limbo’s claustrophobic darkness, certainly, but the game actually plays more like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons or Valiant Hearts; rather than a focus on a singular character, puzzles and levels are built around co-operation and dual dynamics, leading to a more satisfying puzzle experience.

THIS SEEMS FAMILIAR…
UPPER ONE GAMES is keen on introducing you to the mythology and culture that has informed Iñupiaq culture for the last few centuries. The game’s narrative was penned after the developers sat down with storytellers in the Alaskan community and managed to translate the verbal sagas into tangible gameplay. As such, you can expect spiritual familiars, friendly spectres and projections of nature (such as the embodiment of the Aurora Borealis, pictured) to accompany you through your journey.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
THE CORE GAMEPLAY will revolve around switching between Nuna and her fox familiar in efforts to solve puzzles scattered around the arctic landscape. The game will feature a co-op mode, too, so two players can work together and sort through the shadowed, snowy environments in unison. The game is built to promote intergenerational relationships as well, so it’s the kind of casual experience you can enjoy with your family as well as your friends.

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