In my post-Legend of Korra haze, I stumbled across Never Alone, a game I had heard vague mentions of at E3 last summer. Revolving around an Alaskan story, you play as the Inupiaq girl, Nuna, and her spiritual guide, a white fox.
What’s particularly innovative is how the native lore is interspersed with the story as you progress. I have never played a game quite like this one, and with each chapter scene narrated by an elder storyteller in native Inupiaq, it definitely makes you feel immersed in the culture. It is equal parts terrifying, educational, and awe inspiring.
The eight chapter puzzle platformer requires you to switch between the two characters to take on a variety of bosses, natural and supernatural in origin, but this is where the game slightly suffers. At times, the A.I. coding of your companion is off, and it makes for an infuriating experience during some of the more, quick, and reactionary puzzles (I played via PS4. Perhaps the Steam version is a little different). Aside from this, Nuna and the fox take you on a journey unlike any other.
Why should you check it out?
Aside from it being a measly $15 on either Steam or the PlayStation store, you’d be supporting a truly independent game. Over 30 Inupiaq (a northern Alaskan people) community members contributed to this game at every level, from concept to being a part of the developer, Upper One Games, as an attempt to take oral storytelling to the next level, and contribute one of their pieces of history to the gaming industry.
“We started to look to ourselves and wondering what it was we have that we could share with the world. And what we have is amazing stories and amazing culture.”
– Gloria O’Neill
CEO of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council
Never Alone could be the beginning of a new voice in gaming, a way to share the culture, and stories of many. For example, a horror game based around the Navajo “naaldooshii,” a medicine man or woman who has attained the highest level of priesthood in the tribe, but chose to use his or her power for evil by taking the form of an animal to inflict pain and suffering on others. Obviously, care must be taken that the groups we pull creatively from are not exploited for the sake of money, and are involved every step of the way with their blessing. This is why Never Alone is important.