Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)
“Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)” could be described as a puzzle platformer, but that would be doing the game a huge injustice. It is “the first game developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people” and “nearly 40 Alaska Native elders, storytellers and community members contributed to the development of the game.” Going to such lengths to preserve the culture and get the details right in a video game is pretty impressive, if you ask me. In this little gem, you’ll take on the role of a young Iñupiat girl named Nuna and her trustworthy companion (an arctic fox) with the intent on finding the source of the “eternal blizzard” that threatens everything she’s ever known. Before I go any further, I’d like to quickly thank Laurie Thornton, the co-founder of Radiate (a PR firm), for providing me with a free press copy.
The first thing I noticed about “Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)” was its incredible visuals. The environment and ambiance felt so alive and rich…it made me feel as if I were actually there alongside the two protagonists. Some people consider the presentation of video games to be an art form and while I don’t hold any such degrees in the field, I can safely say that this game is the closest I’ve seen to being true “art” (or at least one art form that I can truly appreciate). Further, the game includes a separate menu that allows you to view unlockable movies relating to the “Iñupiat” culture and the game itself. As I said above, calling this game a simple puzzle platformer simply doesn’t cut it.
In terms of gameplay, you’ll be able to fly solo or with a friend (local co-op only). Assuming you opt for the single player experience, you’ll be able to switch off between the two characters with the press of a button. There is controller support and luckily, there aren’t too many buttons to remember unlike some other platformers I’ve played. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses and as it stands to reason, you’ll need to consider these traits as you attempt to solve the puzzles the game throws at you. Nuna can climb ropes and throw her bola, for example, while the Fox can fit through tight spaces and wall jump better than Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden ever could.
All in all, “Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)” is an incredible and unforgettable experience. I did take issue with the controls as they seemed to be unresponsive or sluggish at times. This can prove frustrating when attempting to time your jump and/or grasp onto a ledge…in one instance Nuna went right through a platform I was attempting to grip because I had jumped “too far”. Frustrating moments like these aside, I really enjoyed watching Nuna and her companion grow as the story progressed. I’ve always been a softie when it comes to animals, but the story and the storytelling (done by a master storyteller and spoken in the Iñupiaq language) really pushed this game over the edge in my eyes. As a whole, the game takes four to five hours to finish which is a high note considering that the game’s price tag is only fifteen bucks.
Final Verdict: 9/10