It’s hard to believe that Never Alone is now over seven years old. Even more inexplicable is that it’s only just making its way to Switch.
A puzzle-platformer adventure game developed by Upper One Games and E-Line Media, Never Alone puts players in control of both a young Iñupiaq girl named Nuna and her cute companion, an Arctic fox. Perhaps more notable, however, is the fact that it’s developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, drawing from a traditional story of the Alaska Native people that has been shared for generations. It’s even narrated in the Iñupiaq language.
Needless to say, the story at the centre of Never Alone is one that is full of heart. It’s got its ups and downs, sending you on an emotional rollercoaster. And by the time you’re done with it, you feel like you’ve learned something. It’s a large part of what makes Never Alone so special, despite some gameplay issues that frustrate from time to time.
As you make your way through a range of environments, your path will often be blocked. Only by making use of Nuna and Fox’s unique abilities will you be able to progress. Playing on your own, you’ll need to switch between Nuna and the Fox regularly, then. It’s when you shouldn’t need to switch between them to complete a given task that irritations sometimes rear their heads; a simple platforming section, for instance. But every once in a while your computer-controlled partner will mess up, forcing you to wait for them to correct their mistake or even backtrack a small distance.
Needless to say, Never Alone is best played in co-op, with Nuna and Fox each controlled by a single player. Though even then there’ll still be some frustrations. Both Nina and Fox can sometimes feel a bit unwieldy to control, and can even get stuck on bits of the environment. It doesn’t happen enough to totally ruin the experience, but it certainly takes the shine off of it. On Switch, you might also encounter the odd crash.
Still, those with a modicum of patience keen to unravel the great story of Never Alone will absolutely love the journey despite its issues. And while it’s not the biggest adventure in the world, with a playtime of around three hours, this Switch edition is the Arctic Collection, which includes around another hour of gameplay via the Foxtales expansion.
With visuals that impress on Switch, especially on the new OLED model, and a wonderful soundtrack, those that have never played Never Alone before might very well want to check it out. Its puzzles will never truly stump you, but they will make you engage your brain at regular intervals. And though its not free of problems, you’ll still fondly remember your time with Nuna and Fox long after the credits have rolled.
Never Alone: Arctic Collection launches on Switch on 24th February. It’s available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.