Parents and their kids alike are going to fall head over heels in love with one of the most breathtakingly beautiful games released to date on the NVIDIA SHIELD, Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna).
It is rare for the words “education” and “game” to be used in the same sentence without turning gamers and kids off a title quicker than you can say “edutainment“, but Never Alone pulls it off.
This title is also one of those unique experiences in which, we would argue, it is very easy to equate video games with art. Not only does it look and sound more gorgeous than ever when played on the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV hooked up to a decent big screen and a 5.1 surround sound system, the characterization, storytelling and nuanced attention to the finest details are genuinely moving.
BAFTA for Best Debut Game
Once you’ve been pulled into this beautifully rendered story of Nuna, a young Iñupiat girl, and an arctic fox as they set out to find the source of the eternal blizzard, you will realize why it won the 2015 BAFTA Award for Best Debut Game. Not only is Never Alone based on the world of the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people. There were nearly 40 community elders and storytellers directly involved in the development of the game and the storyline.
And it is exactly this that shines through in the quality of the gameplay and the ability of Never Alone to have players quickly and completely absorbed in its storyline.
Gameplay wise, this is a perfectly designed puzzle platformer, that you can choose to play alone in single-player mode or cooperatively with a friend or family member, as you both trek through the frozen tundra, navigate iced over forests, swim through underwater ice caverns and face-off against a range of foes in your quest to save the girl’s village.
Obviously, if you are going to play cooperatively with a family member or friend, then you are going to need an extra NVIDIA SHIELD game controller. But you’ll very soon realize that it’s worth investing in a second controller, because Never Alone is simply one of the best local co-op games we’ve ever played. Period.
Rich and Atmospheric Arctic Environments
The entire game looks great and plays so smoothly on the NVIDIA SHIELD, particularly the rich and atmospheric arctic environments. And solving the puzzles by figuring out which character’s skills is needed to overcome particular obstacles is a particular joy – Nuna can climb, move heavier objects and throw her bola at targets, while Fox can scramble through tiny holes, up walls and can jump surprisingly high.
The Alaska Native elders share stories and ancient wisdom about their culture as the game unfolds, with over 30 minutes of video interviews interspersed throughout the experience. And the really wonderful achievement here is that this is a genuinely delightful and pleasurable learning experience. This footage completely complements the gameplay in Never Alone, never once feeling forced or extraneous.
And this is the real success and true triumph of this flawlessly designed game. The developer promises that Never Alone is the first in what they refer to as “an exciting new genre of ‘World Games’ that draw fully upon the richness of unique cultures to create complex and fascinating game worlds for a global audience.”
As Never Alone proves, bringing community storytellers together with great game developers is obviously one of the most powerful ways of updating these stories for new audiences worldwide.
We cannot wait for more! For now, we’re going to have one more go at tackling that tricky ice cave swim… Never Alone is now available to download on Google Play for $14.99.