Never Alone

I just polished off Never Alone on Steam. Spoiler-free review: I think it’s a game with a good heart (nice educational bits about the Iñupiaq and their culture), but overall frustratingly clunky controls combined with way-too-easy puzzles (think Brothers, but with even less focus on using the environment) and awkward platforming. It feels like they made one puzzle per chapter, then have it repeated ad nauseam until the next chapter starts. The story sort of gets nonsensical, and I think you’re supposed to just write it off as “this is a folk tale passed down through the generations, it’s not supposed to make a whole lot of sense” but especially towards the end, it just feels like a string of nonsequiturs.

Also, I don’t know if it was just for me or what, but there were a ton of bugs when playing. First the LAV filters didn’t automatically install with the game, so every time I tried to view a Cultural Insight video, the game would crash. I had to Google to figure out what was happening. During the game, more than once I’d be stuck on a “puzzle,” only to restart the level and realize that the tree I had been standing on was SUPPOSED to be walking forward, but had bugged out. Or I’d jump to a branch and get awkwardly stuck inside of the environment. I am playing on PC, I know dealing with bugs is my comeuppance for not playing on a console, but COME ON.

And now, spoilers.

Like I said, I get this is supposed to be a folk story and not, like, a super realistic account of events that would take place in the real world. I was prepared to suspend my disbelief, and I did enjoy the first half of the game for what it was.

Then the fox got killed. Oh shit! This is a big emotional moment! My cute little buddy just ate it–

Oh. No, he’s totally fine. In fact, he’s a whole lot BETTER now. He can fly around and manipulate the goddamn environment. HE CAN’T DIE ANYMORE. Also, and this is the weirdest goddamn thing of all, it turns out he was not actually a fox, or even a fox spirit like all the other animal spirits you see. He’s really Kenny from South Park. Could his outfit look any sillier? He is wearing WHITE TIGHTS. When you die, he pulls down a hood that has a fox face on it. COME ON. That is just… IT’S A KID WEARING A FOX-THEMED PARKA, COME THE HELL ON.

Why is it that up until that point in the game, if the fox dies, you have to restart the area? It doesn’t matter that the fox died, because he’s actually a damn spirit. Actually, he should have died way earlier because frankly he is a whole lot more powerful as a spirit than as a fox.

There are other things that sorta bother me (what the hell was the deal with the terrible man? why did the giant chase you for his adze back, then didn’t give a shit that you broke it?) but those did not stand out nearly as much as Kenny-fox.