Upper One Games takes great pride in being "the first indigenous video game company in the U.S." and is celebrating that fact by releasing the first video game in Iñupiaq, a language of the Alaska Native people in the Arctic. It sounds like an interesting proposition, mostly because we get a new style of storytelling never used before in video games, but its game Never Alone is also beautiful enough to stand up on its own.
Players take control of Nuna, a young Iñupiaq girl from the northern reaches of the world, and her friend, an arctic fox. From there, the pair stumble across a puzzle platforming adventure that will move through many elements of Nuna's unique culture and heritage.
Kisima Ingitchuna, as the game is called in the Iñupiaq language, takes place in a beautiful Arctic setting, and it's being published by E-Line Media. Both companies are thrilled to be working on the project
"We're extremely proud and excited to be building a truly unique game," said Gloria O'Neill, president and CEO of Upper One Games and Cook Inlet Tribal Council.
"We'd like to think we're creating one of the most authentic – and fun – games of the year. Video games are powerful tools for making the history, tradition and culture of indigenous peoples relevant to both the next generation of Native people and the rest of the world."
"This is the most personally rewarding project I've worked on in twenty years of designing video games," said Sean Vesce, chief creative officer of E-Line Media. "Alaska Native mythology and culture is incredibly rich and translates remarkably well to making an amazingly fun experience for all audiences."
Like I said, it sounds like a pretty interesting game all around. 2D platformers are all the rage these days as the easiest genre for indie developers to make, and its simplistically beautiful graphics more than sell it. Never Alone takes an extra step in providing an educational look into an actual real-world culture very few people have ever heard of, a first for video games I think.
We'll have to wait and see how much of a balance Upper One Games can strike between fun gameplay and an involving experience. If I were to nitpick, it looks a little too much like LIMBO with the both the colors and the mood inverted on their heads. Simplicity and minimalism with stage design is obviously the thought process behind this game.
Never Alone will be released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC this fall for $14.99.