Never Alone (Kishima Inŋitchuŋa) | AIM Video Game Review

I’ve included the main game and the prelude DLC Foxtales in this review, because I want the whole indie game to be talked about in this review.

Gameplay

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Basically, the point of the game is to travel to other places in the Arctic, so it function as a 2D platformer with 3D graphics. It involves navigating and climbing through various obstacles, either in abandoned towns or the harsh landscape.

I did have trouble with throwing the bola, since I could not aim it on the exact spot. It was also difficult using the oar to row the kayak.

Graphics

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For an indie game, the graphics are quite smooth and slick, and it never lags. Do not let the monochrome color scheme fool you, you can tell exactly what you are doing, either underwater or in a snow storm. It is clear that the developers wanted to have a more economic use of graphics, since this game would have been designed for kids. It was definitely pleasing to watch as I ventured into the game. Unlike the TRIPLE A games that have so much lag, it is good to know that there are indie developers who treat their products with care and respect.

I also did like the ways in which there is an etching-like depiction of the stages and the spirits in the scrimshaw style that would have been used on horns in order to tell stories.

Characters

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Basically, you play as a little girl and her Arctic fox in order to go on a journey. Although her name is Nuna, it is later revealed to that she is based on the Inupiaq myth of a girl named Kunuuksayuuka who takes a stone giant’s ax in order to stop a winter storm.

Fox functions as a guide to Nuna and to the player. He is able to communicate to the spirits to get wherever they need to go.

Not only are there spirits, but there are animals that have their own personalities even though they do not talk. They mostly impede Nuna and the Fox, but there are a few who actively help them in danger. The point of this type of tumultuous relationship is that nature is meant to be cherished and not toyed with.

If you consider him a character, then the narrator who tells Nuna’s story in Inupiaq is definitely a good inclusion. He functions as the wise man telling his story to the player.

Plot

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The plot does not overwhelm you with complexities, rather it simply coasts you along, like the Arctic winds in the game. That is definitely important if the purpose of the game is to introduce Inupiaq culture to the rest of the world, especially since the plot of the game is based on various Inupiaq stories, which helps to create a truly integrated and solid plot-line that revolves around two protagonists.

There are plenty of collectibles throughout the game that open videos of Inupiaq people talking about Inupiaq life, culture, history, and mythology. I thought that this was an incredibly important part of the game, especially if you need a break or are just genuinely curious about the Inupiaq nation.

Recommend This To…

  • Any linguist, specifically one who specializes in applied linguistics, because they can actually see how language revitalization can be played out–no pun intended–in a video game.
  • Any parent who cannot get their kids to become interested in their education–specifically ones that are in Canada, Alaska, or Greenland. I would highly recommend this game, since it can make learning about indigenous life and beliefs into a fun, interactive experience.
  • Any indigenous person who engages in the interdisciplinary juxtaposition of game design and linguistics. I would love to see more games like this, that have an edutainment purpose, serving to entertain and educate young players, indigenous or otherwise.
  • Anyone interested in starting to play indie games. I can tell you that this game will withstand the tests of time and become a classic.

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Never Alone (Kishima Inŋitchuŋa). Upper One Games/E-Line Media. 2014.

Image Attribution: Micky Milkyway

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