Never Alone

Developer: Upper One Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle

This was a cute puzzle platform game with a small Eskimo girl and a white fox. It sometimes felt like it was inspired by both ICO and Limbo. It could be played either as a true co-operation game, or single player by alternating the two characters. The latter worked well enough on its own.

The game itself was a side-scrolling puzzle platform in very convincing icy landscapes with a cold blizzard sometimes delivering gusts of wind that made it necessary to crouch down. Jumping and climbing was very easy for a while, in fact so much that it felt like it almost belonged in the facile adventure genre.

It didn’t last – it became plenty challenging.

Without spoiling too much, I was fleeing an ice bear on several occasions, a bad guy throwing fireballs, there were cooperation puzzles, even swimming through tunnels. The girl soon got hold of a bola to throw at targets – like ice to break it down or fragile wooden boards – which was also the only use of the mouse to aim her arm in the direction she wanted to hit. Everything else were keys only.

The controls felt a bit sloppy and imprecise. Luckily it was made up for by a lenient grabbing of edges when jumping towards them. As long as I was patient and noticed how the gusts of wind changed to give me a boost, it was not too bad. As soon as I changed to one character, the other one was controlled by AI. It did its job adequately for the most part, but it sometimes did need a helping hand.

While both parts could have been better, I’ve seen worse.

Cooperation puzzles often made use of their individual strengths. While the girl could throw her bola and push boxes, the fox was more agile and could cross-jump shafts. It could sometimes light up white “ghostly” platforms and drag them over to the girl. A lot of the cooperation puzzles had the fox somehow lowering or dragging a platform closer to her. Maybe while avoiding something swirling around.

In spite of its predominately linear design, it had a collection part too. This unlocked videos I could watch right there with a tap of a key. They lasted a few minutes each and were documentaries about their culture, beliefs, animals, and more. I didn’t watch much of this. I have a thing about keeping games and a lot of reading separated. But I liked the idea – I’m sure some gamers might find it awesome.


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