Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition (PlayStation 5) Review

By Luke Hemming 11.04.2021

Review for Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition  on PlayStation 5

Revolving loosely around one of the better-known Icelandic fairy tales (aren't they all?), comes indie adventure Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition from Infuse. Cast in the role of a fox tasked with the protection of the Northern Lights, does this foxy foray into the forests bring with it adventuring worthy of a next generation touch up, or should it be left to its own devices in the chicken coop? There are certainly cases for both camps, although after completion, it certainly feels like time could have been spent in worse ways.

Following closely in the vein of titles such as Journey, the majority of storytelling involved rests firmly in the paws of the player. Moving from area to area, exploration is the name of the game here. The more time taken to explore every nook and cranny, the more chance of gaining a greater understanding of exactly what happened to plague the landscape with a plant-like, Twilight Princess-esque infection. Essentially, the storyline boils down to: Fox goes walkabouts, finds magic ghost fox that is also the guardian of the northern lights, and is then tasked with their protection and salvation. It's simple, its open to as much depth as a player is willing to put into discovery, and, most importantly, it works.

Foxy has all the moves a fox would be expected to have, none of which are game specific. It's a nice grounding of realism when a tap of a face button produces nothing but a quick wag and bark (the movements and sounds being realistic enough, to almost lose the whole console and TV set up to a pet taking a kamikaze leap towards the screen). A delight is leaving the controller idle to see the furry playmate curl up around itself, and blissfully snooze until ready to continue. For all the effort made there however, the fox itself looks just a little off. When traversing environments, it also doesn't quite move with the grace you would expect, and will occasionally get stuck in scenery to the point of a full reset to ensure progression. It's a real shame, because the whole style is the highlight, and with moments like a miss-timed jump or wall glitch, it's easy to be taken out of the experience.

Screenshot for Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition  on PlayStation 5

As for the experience itself, the best description would be short but pleasant. Mechanics are learnt very quickly within the first half hour or so, and these become the staples right up until the end credits. Occasionally jump between a platform, wag tail a statue, use flower to activate monolith, rinse and repeat. For all the space available across the sprawling environments, in terms of gameplay there really isn't a lot to crack on with. With its relaxing atmosphere, and frankly beautiful soundtrack, however, intensive gameplay certainly isn't the aim. Purely the objective here is to bask in the spectacle, and occasionally be reminded that this is actually controllable, and not an art piece.

Speaking of art, Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition could be screenshotted and hung on any wall. Infuse is totally aware of this fact, and has added a quick-to-access photo mode to proceedings, to ensure every inch of the landscapes can be captured. From icy glaciers to green rolling hills, everything looks beautiful and awe inspiring. Special note must also be made to any segment involving water. To date the water effects as foxy wades through a rain filled puddle have rarely been bested. This has always looked this good in each of its previous console ports, so to its own detriment isn't going to be a massive jump as it loads on a shiny ray-traced PS5. Those new haptic triggers aren't going to get much of a workout either, with no features integrated to fully take advantage of the hardware. Easily patchable, and hopefully something that will be integrated in the future. There's a lot of terrain to feel under paw, and a lot of potential to be realised that could easily… spirit this adventure from enjoyable but forgettable, to sensory indulgence.

Screenshot for Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition  on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

What Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition does, it does well. Essentially, what is on offer here is a beautiful relaxing experience accompanied by a haunting and fitting soundtrack. Occasionally some sort of gameplay element and extremely light puzzling will be experienced, although this is often hampered by janky controls and glitching. The sheer gorgeousness of the world old red inhabits is worthy of admission alone, and the overall style and presentation of the package is what elevates this from "leave well alone" to "give it a lazy Sunday try." If already owning the original release, there's nothing here to justify jumping back in for, but for newcomers looking for something a bit different, certainly consider giving this fox a fumble.

Developer

Infuse Studio

Publisher

Merge Games

Genre

Adventure

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   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, Renan

There are 2 members online at the moment.