Never Alone Review
[WWJP is a discontinued series of video reviews done by yours truly (Blessing)]
Never Alone is a game that I’m glad I played once but will likely never pick up again.
What is it?
In Never Alone, you play as a girl named Nuna and her fox companion. It’s a puzzle platformer that is an interpretation of Alaskan indigenous stories. Basically the game is doing what it can to portray indigenous Alaskan culture in a sincere way. It’s short, can be played through in about 3 hours and does its best to try and show atmosphere and be genuine. The game achieves some of what it tries to accomplish but ultimately falls short of the potential it has.
How is it?
There is a lot that I like about Never Alone. The game has heart. It reminds me of Limbo in the way that it combines its puzzle platforming with atmospheric tone. Instead of traveling in shadows, you travel through the whiteness of snow. Even the floatiness of your character reminded me of how the character in Limbo controlled. The difference here is that the platforming and puzzles are nowhere near as good. The puzzles were way too easy. There was never a moment where I felt like I needed to think hard in order to figure something out. The one time I was stopped in Never Alone, I was able to come to the solution within a matter of minutes. And the solution was not at all something that was felt earned through logical thinking.
The platforming is decent but can be clunky at times. It’s forgivable given that the game is trying to do more with its puzzles than its platforming. Even so I didn’t like moving with Nuna. I played as the wolf whenever I could because it moved faster and jumped further and felt better to use. What made platforming even worse was the amount of times I encountered glitches in the game. Clunky platforming is one thing but for a game that is only about 3 hours long, I should not have run into as many glitches as I did. None of them ruined the game for me but some of them did cause me trouble on some of the platforming sections and took me out of the immersion.
The story of the game is its redeeming quality. I don’t want to spoil anything but within my short time of playing, the story took me down a nice emotional path. It has ups and downs. It has unexpected moments. However, it’s not a story I feel like I need to experience again. By the time I was nearing the end of it, I was actually glad that it was only three hours because that was about as much as I could take of the game.
The game looks pretty good but definitely isn’t particularly impressive. I don’t necessarily play side scrollers for their graphics but for a game that is trying to be atmospheric, you have to do more than put a bunch of snow on screen in order to be impressive. There’s a part where you get swallowed by a whale and if the story didn’t explicitly tell me that is what happened, I wouldn’t have known from the environment.
Never Alone’s attempt at being an endearing puzzle platformer is a decent one but lacks what it needs to be fully realized. It’s not a bad game. I am glad that I played it but I wouldn’t push somebody to go out of their way to play this game. It’s cool. Pun intended. But doesn’t do enough to even warrant the word “fun”. The puzzle platforming ranges from mediocre to okay, but the story is good and short enough that I’m not offended by it. This is Never Alone is a game that I wouldn’t recommend for anything more than a time waster.
This piece was written by Blessing Adeoye. You can find Blessing on the internet either getting into dance battles or analyzing game culture for the purpose of making the world a better place at @blessingjr on the Twittersphere.