Kona is a first person puzzle/suspense game developed by Parabole. It features an ex-military journalist by the name of Carl Faubert who is out in a small mountain town to interview a man the town either hates or loves, W. Hamilton.
So, I went into this game completely blind. I hadn’t heard of Kona or read anything about it before downloading it and starting a new game. I liked that. It meant I would be 100% unbiased. And so I started my first game. Yes, my FIRST game, I did start another game and I will gladly go into detail shortly. You start in a picnic kind of area, all of your characters supplies on the table: a camera, a journal (which didn’t work in the version I played), a flashlight, some matches, and a map. As I picked up all of my effects, a Narrator chimed over, noting the things I had picked up and “fun facts” about them. For example, when I picked up the matches the Narrator noted the character was afraid of the dark. Odd, I think, but I’ll play along. The Narrator then continued, explaining the very important interview I had soon with the town’s entrepreneur and that the meeting was a further north at one of his shops.
I glanced at my map to see if I had an indicated as to where I needed to go, but nothing popped up, so I decided I would drive north until the Narrator made an indication that I was at or near. That was a mistake. I jumped into the character’s red truck and started driving. As I drove, the Narrator talked… about everything. The weather, the history of the town, the relationship of the town with the man you would meet, the geography of the town, and so on. The Narrator kept talking and I kept driving. All the way until I slammed into an invisible wall. Confused I stopped for a second to see if my truck had just got stuck on a lump of snow. I tried exiting the car only to have the Narrator chastise me, saying “This was no time to wander around. You’re going to be late.” or something along those lines.
I proceeded to turn around and drive back the way I came. I saw a few houses on my way back and I stopped at each one, only to have the Narrator scold me again for “fooling around”. His “military background required him to never be late” the Narrator informed me. This is where I started to get annoyed. The lag I had experienced throughout the game so far was irksome, the giant load of exposition the Narrator vomited into my lap was aggravating, and now I was being bitched at for getting lost in the haze of snow and lag. I powered on, trying to find my destination. I glanced at my map again and saw a gas station nearby so I decided what better place for an interview with someone important than a gas station. At the very least, I could search for a much needed drink.
And wouldn’t you know it? That was where I needed to go. I couldn’t remember if the Narrator had mention a gas station in the novel he had dictated to me on my drive or if the gas station was suppose to be more visible and that I had just missed it while bombarded by lag. Either or, I finally found it just in time to decide to quit.
On playthrough number two, I readjusted all of my settings to ease up on the lag (it didn’t help much) and made a bee line right for the gas station. I walked inside to find the place was ransacked and no one in sight. I wandered around, looting things while the Narrator talked about everything I clicked and looked at. At the back of the shop I noticed a glowing chunk of ice. Odd, I thought. The Narrator thought so, too. “Carl has seen some strange phenomenons in his work as a journalist, but an iceberg in the middle of a shop? As though it had come right out of the ground.” Thank you, Narrator. I needed that long statement. I continued roaming around, unsure of what I needed to do. Couldn’t call the police, the phones were down because of the blizzard. There was a note on the counter written by the gentleman we’re suppose to meet with, asking the general manager to wait for me. Obviously something had happened and I should probably look for this general manager.
I wandered out back and saw a trail of more glowing blue icebergs disappearing into the woods across the road. Along the way, I stopped by an outhouse, looking for more loot of course. Inside was a newspaper clipping, detailing how a body was found in the woods recently. Oh great, I thought. I’m either going to run into a yeti or a werewolf following this trail into the woods. I continued on away, Narrator surprisingly quiet. Along the way I found a gun, the barrel bent into an L position. This is where I started feeling invested. I started feeling nervous. I kept going, ice bergs getting larger and closer together, wind whistling in my ears. At the end stood a massive chunk of ice. I walked around to the front of it and sure enough, a man was inside frozen solid. And then my immersion was torn asunder. The Narrator opened his mouth again. Was it something insightful? Did it help me understand the setting in anyway? No, of course not. He simply stated that there was a man frozen solid right in front of me. In case I missed it.
The biggest rule in story telling? Show, don’t tell. I had the excitement of finding this myself and that excitement was murdered. It was the same feeling you get when you’re watching a movie and the person sitting next to you leans over and tells you what you just saw, only it was a part of the story! I was so annoyed I couldn’t enjoy what came next, which was seriously kind of cool. I activated the frozen guy and went into, I guess a spirit world. I followed a newly found trail (which by the way, the Narrator was happy to continually point out to me like a back seat gamer) and I came across a car and the dead man’s wallet. I won’t spoil who it is, but you can probably guess.
Now, I might be over exaggerating. The Narrator may not have talked as much as I remember or maybe he did. I do know he talked WAY too much though, to the point where it really did soil my experience with the game. Aside from my experience with the story, the graphics were pretty (when I wasn’t lagging), and the music is really well done. After making my way back to the gas station, I saved and quit and I probably won’t pick it up again until the next major update.