Never Alone, Merging Native American Culture and Gaming

Never Alone is the reason why the video game medium is not only the greatest form of entertainment, but an asset to culture.

It provides an interactive medium to experience the Native American story. These types of stories are losing out to modernity and in an effort to preserve them, we have this game.

Native American culture is full of rich and colorful stories, and to my knowledge this is the first really ambitious title to focus on Native lore that has been told throughout generations. It’s not uncommon to hear the names of Native American creatures used in video games. For example, Final Fantasy introduced me to Quetzalcoatl, Zipacna, Xolotol, Gukumatz, Kukulcan, Mictlantecuhtli’, Meztli, and more. While Native American culture has been a place many creatures in RPGs draw their names from, very little is actually explained to the players about the myths that give them their names.

FFXI
Big shout out to Final Fantasy XI for introducing many to Native American legends with some (albeit hidden) context.

The developers of Never Alone, Upper One Games and E-Line Media, claim that the story has been crafted in partnership with Alaskan Native storytellers to ensure authenticity. This benefits both the Native and gaming communities. Native American stories are preserved and passed to following generations in a growing medium while the world of gaming is given a new experience and more validity as an art form. There is no downside to this symbiotic relationship.

However, none of that will be particularly useful if nobody wants to play the game. Thankfully, Never Alone has been receiving universal praise from those fortunate enough to play it. The game was an indie sweetheart at PAX Prime, a charming title that offers nothing to complain about.

Never Alone.
Is it just me or is that the cutest fox ever placed into a video game?

Never Alone is inspired by an Iñupiaq story of an endless blizzard. The game revolves around controlling Nuna and Fox, in single or multiplayer, as they traverse an icy land in the middle of said blizzard. Players will use both character’s unique abilities to solve platforming puzzles and discover why the land is thrown out of balance by the constant storms of wind and ice. Throughout your journey, creative artwork brings to life a world overrun by strange and wondrous spirits inhabiting the arctic setting. This distinctive art helps creates a unique atmosphere that helps the game stand out.

Sky people descend from the auroras and try to snatch you up.
Here we see sky people that descend from the auroras and try to snatch you up. Just one of the many spirits and figures from Iñupiaq legend.

It may be too soon to comment on whether or not Never Alone will be a great game, but it’s already an interesting title with a fresh story that, in my mind, you likely won’t find anywhere else. If atmospheric puzzle platformers, distinctive art, Native American culture, or the cutest fox in video game history piques your interest, feel free to check out Never Alone when it releases on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on November 18.

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