December 4, 2019 at 10:31 AM #1369
Rating: 3.0 – Fair
Thanks to the success of games like Braid and Limbo, side-scrolling puzzle/platformers are a dime a dozen. Never Alone manages to stick out from the pack because of its unique premise and development, but the game is certainly not as good as the best in its genre.
At its core, Never Alone is a passable co-op platformer/puzzle game. In the game, players take control of an Inupiaq girl and an Arctic fox as they traverse a harsh landscape. In single player, players have to switch between the two characters to solve puzzles. This makes the game far less fun to play alone, as co-op players can split responsibilities between the two of them. Unfortunately, the second player sort of gets the short end of the stick when it comes to Never Alone. The first half of the game is plenty fun as the second player, but due to story reasons, the second half of the game becomes far less exciting.
The second half of Never Alone is weak in general. Not only do players have to deal with the co-op partner being given far less interesting things to do, but the second half of the game largely consists of back-tracking that feels like cheap padding, even though it’s done for story purposes. There’s also a weird boss fight that is far more frustrating than it is fun and feels out of place compared to the rest of the game.
Never Alone’s story is very folksy. It lacks payoff, but it has some moments that stick with you. Drawing from Inupiaq folklore is an interesting way to get inspiration for a video game, but the problem is a lot of themes and moral stories from these pieces of folklore are nothing new. The game is not nearly long enough to get too attached to any of the characters though, and in fact, can be completed 100% without much effort.
Basically, Never Alone is a by the numbers puzzle/platformer with a nice co-op element to make it a bit easier to recommend than some of the other similar games on the market. Its unique inspiration for a video game makes it interesting, as does its unique art style. However, the game has a poor second half, it’s extremely short, and it’s not all that fun to play in single player. If you have a co-op buddy handy, then Never Alone may just be worth it taking the time to play. Just don’t expect the next Braid or Limbo from it.
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