Never Alone - Xbox One

Release Date:

November 19, 2014

Also on:

Xbox One PS4 PC

Viewing USA:

Also on UK.
6.5

Summary:

Never Alone is an atmospheric puzzle platformer developed in collaboration with the Inupiat, an Alaska Native people, drawn from a traditional story that has been shared across the generations. Guide both characters in single-player mode or play cooperatively with a friend as you trek through frozen tundra, leap across treacherous ice floes, swim through underwater caverns and face enemies both strange and familiar. Experience the epic journey of Nuna and fox as they search for the source of an eternal blizzard that threatens the survival of everything they have ever known.

People who liked this also liked...

7.0 / 10
Ziggurat for the Xbox One was developed by the team over at Milkstone Studios. Combining aspects of modern FPS games with the twist on roguelike titles, Ziggurat seeks to find that special balance ...
by Milkstone Studios
Release Date: 03/20/2015

Details

  • Developer(s):
    • Upper One Games
  • Publisher(s):
    • E-Line Media
  • Distributor(s):
    • Xbox One Store
  • Release Date(s):
    • November 19, 2014
  • ESRB Rating:
    • Everyone 10
  • Player(s):
    • 1-2
  • Player(s) (Co-op):
    • 1-2 (Local)
  • Online Player(s):
    • N/A
  • Add-Ons:
    • Available

Technical Information

  • Required Disc Space:
    • 2.94GB Minimum
  • Supported Video Output:
    • 1080p
  • Engine:
    • Unity
  • Game Format:
    • Digital Download
  • Average Playing Time:
    • 20 Hours
avatar name

Posted:
2015-07-16

Jamie_Hall

Writer

Xbox One

6.3

Never Alone was developed by the team at Upper One Games for release on the Xbox One, PC, Wii U, and PS4. Released in 2014, we finally found our way over to this gorgeous platformer when we stumbled across it in the Xbox One Marketplace. We have been in love with the puzzle/platformer genre this past year thanks to so many beautiful efforts by talented indie game companies. Orie and the Blind Forest and Limbo stand out to us right now in our memory. So we did a little bit of research about the game and found out that it would be the perfect morsel in between our more heavy handed gaming experiences (Witcher 3, looking at you). So without further ado let’s dig into this atmospheric platformer and see if it was worth the impulse purchase.

Never Alone is the first major release by the team at Upper One Games and it is a pretty important one at that. The game was developed alongside the Alaskan Native Community and it serves as an introduction to most of the Western World to the complex, beautiful, and metaphorical stories that have been passed down for generations by these people. We follow along with Nuna and her fox and explore the deep Arctic world of the Inupiat folks who live there and the stories that they breathed to life.

So right off the bat you should know that this is a 2D side-to-side platformer. You play an Alaskan Native, wrapped up in furs and such, and you begin by watching a few 'Cultural Insights'. These video clips are unlocked as you progress during the game whenever you stumble across owls. The videos that come unlocked will give you a brief but deep look into the lives of the Inupiat people and their culture. Once that is done you drop right back into the game as a young Inupiat girl named Nuna. You explore through caves, cliffs, and snowy landscapes with your trusty fox by your side. A strange blizzard has been assaulting your village for longer than normal and you must find the source of this strange nature by journeying through the arctic.

We mentioned Limbo earlier on in our review and that comparison comes back around once you dive into the game play. Much like Limbo your life is very easy to forfeit to either nature or the beasts that live within. Only instead of shadowy monsters from some Lovecraftian imagination you have the horrors of true nature: Polar Bears, blizzards, deadly falls, and so on. The Alaskan landscape is hard enough to traverse as it is when you are a little girl and looking out for monstrous bears makes things all the more difficult.

Immediately we found ourselves a little perturbed with some perceived issues that the title was offering. Death being a cheap currency means that we should clutch our lives all the more. However, we quickly found that the controls in the game were not nearly as finely tuned as they should have been. We watched helplessly as Nuna failed to execute jumps that should have connected fine. Going into the puzzle segments there were times when we couldn’t complete some basic parts of the game because the 3D assets would not cooperate. All of these frustrations start to mount and the beautifully illustrated Alaskan landscape starts to feel more like a prison than a fun game to escape from.

Speaking of the landscape, the majority of Never Alone looks absolutely gorgeous. There is a dreamy feel that we felt Limbo perfected and Never Alone emulated to a quality degree. There is a foggy aura over the majority of the game which serves to assuage some of the harshness of the Arctic and the repeated character deaths that you will experience. In fact it is the early harshness of the game that lends so much to the beauty we find later on. The deeper into the wilderness that you and Nuna trek, the prettier everything gets. You’ll come across the Northern Lights, whales made of ice, evil green spirits, and so much more. So while the gameplay is frustrating and poorly done, the visuals are on par with some of the best releases that year. We can tell that Upper One Games worked closely to get the vision that their cultural ambassadors believed in.

The most infuriating aspect of the game should also have been its strong point. Nuna has her trusty fox at her side and you can switch between the two characters in order to complete puzzles. There are certain moments where your fox, who can communicate with the spirit world, needs to activate a lever or step for you to move forward as Nuna. Only when you switch back to Nuna the AI takes control of the fox and occasionally moves, resulting in the lever becoming unpressed and Nuna falling to her frustrating death. Perhaps in multiplayer co-op this mechanic would not be an issue but we shouldn’t need to play multiplayer in order for it to work correctly.

When we finally had our fill of Never Alone we came away shaking our head in two parts: one of amazement and one of frustration. There is a great game here, but Upper One Games didn’t find it.

When the game completes you don’t see a list of staff or developers that actually worked on the title. Instead the game immediately starts to list off cultural ambassadors of the Alaskan Native community that helped turn the game into a reality. In doing so we realized that the priority for Upper One Games was always to honor the cultures of the people that these stores were appropriated from. With that in mind it becomes more apparent why some of the gameplay issues we came across existed. As odd as it sounds, making an elite game was never priority number one for the developers. The goal here was to create a game that respected, honored, and brought to life the lives of a people that most do not understand or even know about.

Submitted by Cheat Title Rating
profile Moderator Unlockable Achievements.
Jul 16, 2015
00

Discuss this game with other users on the Forum below.
Sign up or Login to post a thread.

Message Title Author Replies Last Updated
6.5
6 rates

Rate this game:

By:

Upper One Games

Release Date:

November 19, 2014

Review This Game

Find Us On