Kona (PC) Preview

By Athanasios 02.04.2016

Review for Kona on PC

The purpose of an Early Access version is very simple: the developer lets the community get a taste of its incomplete project, and receives feedback about any problems, or the need to remove, add, or adjust content; a simple idea, which can benefit both sides if used correctly. What are the prerequisites for a decent Early Access release, though? The short answer, a little bit of everything a title can provide. Does Kona follow this simple rule? Unfortunately, the answer is no, with the thing that was left out from this, otherwise, very promising adventure, possibly being its most important element.

Silent Hill is full of grotesque demons, eerie nightmare realms, and an all-engulfing mist that feels like it separates the real from the "other" world. The parts that turn out to be the scariest, however, are simple, everyday locations; the corridor of a hospital, an apartment, a classroom. What makes these mundane locations scary? It just takes absolute silence, along with the feeling of complete isolation. Luckily, and while Cubed3's brief glimpse at Kona didn't unveil any monsters from another dimension, Parabole's firstborn nails this feeling of loneliness surprisingly well.

Screenshot for Kona on PC

Furthermore, and besides the strange decision to slightly blur everything (thus decreasing the, otherwise high, level of realism), the graphics are wonderful; easily one of the best amongst the indie community, especially when it comes to the weather effects - or, to be more precise, the one weather effect: blizzard. Simply put, the frozen world of Northern Canada eats Skyrim's snowscapes for breakfast. The sound effects only add to the immersion, with everything sounding as it should, and with the ambient music fitting like a glove to the overall mood.

The plot revolves around a private investigator that has been hired from a certain rich guy, living in a small '70s village near Lake Atamipek, in order to find out who vandalised his property. Upon reaching this region, he realises that everybody seems to have left in a hurry, leaving behind open TV sets, recently prepared meals, and even valuable items. Where did everyone go and, more importantly, what triggered this hasty evacuation? In order to find out the answer to these questions, the PI must reach the house of his client, but before doing so, he must first find a way to survive this hostile environment, with the low temperature being an even bigger threat than wolves.

Screenshot for Kona on PC

Being an adventure game, though, the element of survival is, at least in this early version, a piece of cake, and it's here more for immersion reasons. In other words, the main deal is about solving problems and collecting clues that might help with the issue at hand. The only flaw regarding the overall presentation is the Omni-present narrator, who completely kills the mood, first, with his sleep-inducing voice, and, second, because it would be better if the narrator was the actual protagonist, or if there was no narration at all.

Now, while there is certainly room for improvement, the game mechanics are very good. The puzzles aren't about solving ancient riddles and such, but more about managing to open a door, or finding the necessary items for crafting a useful tool. They are a bit easy, though, so, hopefully, the future inclusion of all four acts will provide harder challenges. Note that Kona gives a heavy emphasis on being as absorbing as it possibly can be, which means that things lean more on the realism side, therefore, no third-person camera for driving the car, no hand-holding quest-cursors, and a pace that can be described as very, very slow - it's great, but it's not for everyone.

Screenshot for Kona on PC

Solving "puzzles," however, is only part of the fun. The biggest reward is entering an empty house and reading journals, scattered pieces of text, or looking at photographs; clues about the neighbours of the detective's client, and their - troubled - relationship with him. The problem is that, in fear of spoiling everything, the developer hasn't provided enough story-related material to help those who got to try this early build reach a conclusion about this title; will it be good, will it be bad? Who knows? Even so, this looks quite promising, and with any luck, it will be great.

Screenshot for Kona on PC

Final Thoughts

Kona tries its best to feel less like a videogame and more like a real adventure, and, luckily, it succeeds in doing so. Besides the fantastic audio-visuals and overall atmosphere (minus the awful, atmosphere-killing narrator), however, many things must change if this title is to succeed. The element of survival must increase because, currently, nothing feels threatening, and the puzzles must become much harder. As for the plot, not much is offered here, so it's hard to make any definite judgements.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


This looks like a lot of fun. Kinda reminds me of Alan Wake.


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