The game is based on Inuit traditional stories from the Alaskan region. It is a visually stunning platform game. Like all platform games it requires the player to move around obstacles by jumping at the right time or at the right target. You switch between controlling a fox or a Inupiat girl named Nuna. The focus of the game was to immerse the player into the story. Each stage represented a different chapter of the folk tale and at every significant moment a “cultural insight” tab would appear. These cultural insights are short clips that feature modern day Inupiat people explaining for instance, what the Northern Lights meant in their society.
The difficulty level of this game is not high. Anyone who has beat Mario World 1 can get through this game with relative ease though I did swear a couple times when the game was obviously trying to f-bomb with me.
Controls are a simple WASD for movement and switching control between the Fox and Nuna is triggered by pressing Q. You also gain the use of an
Ebola, a traditional rock slinging weapon (not the virus), that can break rocks and other obstacles that are blocking your way. This weapon can be aimed and fired by using left click. Spirits that act as a moving platform that Nuna can jump on can only be activated and controlled by the Fox. Correct placements of these spirits is necessary to clear stages.
Story/Cultural Insights (No Spoilers)
The story is beautiful and is a folk tale about the origin of blizzards. Nuna and her Fox companion seeks to find where the blizzard comes from and in their journey they meet allies and enemies in various shapes and forms. Fox is the most awesome companion ever.
The cultural insights are the most important part of this game. The Cook Inlet Tribal Council of Alaska commissioned Upper Ones Games to create this game in order to educate and raise awareness for their culture and society. Personally, I did not know much about the Inuit people nor their traditions going into this game. My (rather ignorant) initial impression of the Inuit people was that they lived in igloos and hunted fish. This game gave me insight into their culture that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Here are the top 3 awesome things I learned from this game:
- The Inupiat people believe that the aurora borealis (Northern lights) are the spirits of children who died as a child. The community warns their own children from going near the lights because if they do the spirits could cut your head off and use it to play football.
- The Inupiat people realized that climate change was a thing before the worlds’ top scientist published their first papers. How? Their people have lived in the region for centuries and suddenly the land they have always known to be icy cold and permanent suddenly began to melt. Seriously if my backyard started to melt, I don’t need a scientist to tell me s*** is hitting the fan.
- For the month of November there is no Sun. That’s right, one month of complete darkness and the land is lit only by the Moon. Surprisingly this is a good time to travel because everything would look surreal. Things that are dark would seem very close, things that were bright would be very far. The breath that each person takes would glow in the dark- literally things radiated heat would be bathed in moonlight.
The most powerful lesson was simplified into a single statement. Everything is Alive. Since everything is alive, then everything should be respected as an equal and be treated as such. As humans we live off the land and it provides us with nutrients so we must care for the land. The animals we hunt provide us with sustenance to survive the harsh climate and so they must be treated with respect and dignity. This is a powerful lesson that extends beyond the Arctic region and the Inuit people.
This is a beautiful game and it sends a very powerful message to players who choose to listen to it. You can easily go through the entire game
without watching a single cultural insight and still come away feeling like you just listened to a nice fairy tale. There are glitches here and there and
sometimes the stupid platform spirits don’t move the way you want it to. The story is also pretty mellow and it doesn’t really pick up in pace until the end and there are moments where I did think it was getting boring. I will be honest and say that it is not the best platform game and neither it is the most fun but the story and the message it sends is far more powerful than the most entertaining of games.
Come to this game with an open mind and seriously watch the cultural insights. Play the game if want to enjoy a nice story and don’t want to bang your head against any object because you can’t get the timing right. It deserves attention. Also the graphics are A+.
- Difficulty: Medium
- Gameplay Score: 3/5
- Graphics Score: 5/5
- Music: 3/5
- Story: 5/5