Never Alone: Foxtales (PlayStation 4) Review

By Tommy Robbins 14.02.2016

Review for Never Alone: Foxtales on PlayStation 4

Never Alone from Upper One Games is a compact puzzle platformer set in the wilderness of Alaska. Exposing its audience to the Native American traditions of storytelling through spoken word, the game focuses on Nuna, an adolescent Inupiaq girl, and her arctic fox friend as they find themselves living the various tales that are narrated in the native Inupiaq language, and translated into English via subtitles. The task of exposing those living in the modern world to a nearly forgotten culture of tradition and wisdom passed down through generations is a heavy one, but Upper One Games tackles it with grace.

In the previously discussed expansion, Never Alone: Foxtales, Nuna and her fox friend set out for another short story narrative set against a backdrop of platforming and exploration. This adventure is one of rescue, near loss, and unexpected foes. Nuna and the Artic Fox accidentally set into motion events that cause hazard upon another living creature, a small mouse. As the mouse is swept away with the currents of their neighbouring river, Nuna recalls the elder's lesson that all life is valuable and must not be mistreated. Inspired by the words of those her senior, Nuna knows that she must attempt to prevent any further harm to befall this creature. As Nuna boards her canoe to follow and attempt to save the poor creature, she and the fox realize they have been swept away by the current. Their fates, and that of the mouse, are now intertwined.

This beautiful narrative, inspired by the traditional communal stories of the Alaskan Natives, is the centre of Foxtales, carrying the player through the adventure that unfolds over the short hour-or-two experience. The narration spoken over the gameplay provides not only a sense of purpose, but a reminder that this game is doing something special. Hearing a story told in any traditional native language is an experience unlike any other. The chance to live it while incorporating something familiar is, at moments, chill-inducing.

Screenshot for Never Alone: Foxtales on PlayStation 4

While Never Alone and its follow up, Foxtales, tackle subject matter that is deeply profound and thought provoking, it is a shame that, on a "video game" level, the platforming and gameplay offer a somewhat sparse play experience. There's something dry about this game that just doesn't elicit the emotional response one would hope for, or rather, that one needs in order to feel the weight of the subject matter. The fading traditions of a dying culture are no joke. That's not to say that Upper One Games took it as such, but the necessity for interesting and compelling gameplay in order to grip the audience and let them feel the weight of the moment was sadly overlooked.

The unfortunate lack of compelling gameplay moments, while critical in any typical video game, does not completely distract from what this game is doing. One does not simply play Never Alone and Foxtales without the notion that they are important. There is a meaning behind this thing that demands your attention, or that at least says, "If you ignore me, you're a crap human being." It's the culture of an entire people, slowly being lost to time. Upper One Games took it upon themselves to say, "We see what's happening, it's not okay, and we're going to restore some justice here in the best way we know how."

Screenshot for Never Alone: Foxtales on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Never Alone: Foxtales is an adorable and profound platformer that will, if nothing else, feel familiar, but has the chance to be a much greater experience. The casing and delivery doesn't shock you with amazing graphics or responsive gameplay, but instead asks you to have some sense of humanity. It wants you to experience a culture to which many are oblivious. It asks that, for just a short while, you shelve your expectations of gratuitous violence and sexual exploitation and live a culture of modesty and tradition. For anyone with an appreciation for art, humility, culture, and virtue, Never Alone: Foxtales is a game worth the short amount of time it asks for.

Developer

Upper One Games

Publisher

Upper One Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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