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Spirit of the North Review

Explore unique landscapes as an adventurous fox in this Nordic folklore inspired tale.

Games where there is no dialogue whatsoever can be hard to pull players in and keep them engaged. You have to let them discover things on their own, explore, push buttons just to find out what they do; the players have free reign. That’s exactly the case in Spirit of the North, the third person adventure game from Infuse Studio.

In Spirit of the North you play as a red fox who gets intertwined with a guardian of the Northern Lights, a fox spirit. Together with the fox spirit, you’ll explore lands long forgotten and discover the secrets that the ruins hold. You’ll be tasked with solving puzzles, traversing the sometimes dangerous landscape and returning items to beings that died long ago.

As Spirit of the North has no dialogue, players are left fully to their own devices to discover the secrets of ancient ruins. After chapter 2, players meet the fox spirit and are given an ability to “reawaken” certain areas of the ruins. Doing so may open up a new area for players to explore or it may create a bridge, open a hole in the wall to let water escape and fill up the area or many other things to help you traverse the land and solve puzzles.

The ability to wake up and unlock new areas of the ruins can only be used once, by calling to your fox spirit friend when standing on top of a pile of glowing blue flowers. Your fox will then glow like the spirit herself to indicate that this ability can be used. This does cause a lot of backtracking where you’ll unlock a certain area only to find out that there’s another area up ahead you need the spirit-ability for and you’ll have to go back to find more flowers. These flowers aren’t rare by any means, but in certain chapters where the terrain looks similar wherever you go, it can be easy to get lost.

On that topic, players may also find themselves getting stuck from time to time. Some areas in the ground that you jump into are more difficult to jump back out of than you might think. I had to restart the game from my last checkpoint on a few different occasions as a result. Jumping also feels inconsistent and requires too much precision at times; there are a few areas where I’d fail to clear a gap numerous times, spend time looking for another way around, only to go back and finally make the jump. There’s also some frustrating invisible walls, small platforms that are easy to fall off of and some other aggravating small things that can make traversal feel like a bit of a chore.

Annoying as those things are, when you look at Spirit of the North as a full package, it’s hard not to be enamoured by it. It’s a well thought-out project that’s had a lot of work put into it. Its soundtrack appropriately changes to fit the settings, jumping between exciting tracks and relaxing ones to soothe you as you explore and uncover intriguing new areas. There’s plenty to discover in the game’s beautiful world, and you likely won’t want to put it down until you find it all.

Some players might be put off by Spirit of the North due to how heavily it relies on its players to figure things out, but that’s also its biggest charm. You are in the shoes of a creature that can’t speak – and yet, as the game’s world and the story reveal itself to you, it speaks louder than any dialogue could. It’s not perfect by any means – the controls can be awkward, and getting stuck and needing to restart is frustrating – but look past that and you’ve got a wonderful, engaging adventure on your hands. If you’re looking for a relaxing game about exploration and discovery, Spirit of the North is a great one to pick, regardless of your age or skill level.

Spirit of the North is available on PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. We reviewed the game on Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
Becca knew that she would be addicted to video games for the rest of her life when she saw the first pixelated zombie shambling across her TV screen while playing Resident Evil 3. She particularly enjoys being scared, laughing until she cries, or just plain crying while experiencing games. When she isn't playing games she loves spoiling her cat Usagi and eating any kind of sushi she can find.