Kona

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Kona Game Poster Image
Bland supernatural mystery with good looks but little else.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

A running plot point about concerns over opening a mine, what it might do to area, but never feels like a subject with any real weight. Outside of that, not much in way of any positive, negative message.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Outside of player character, narrator, there's no interaction with others. Everything that's learned is learned through notes, files, narrator's dialogue. Characters don't get a chance to really develop any personalities; observations vary depending on sources.

Ease of Play

Simple point and click to interact with environment. Even combining materials where needed involves little more than having whatever you need in your inventory. Driving, on other hand, is a frustrating experience for getting around, made worse by almost zero visibility of constant blizzard-like snowstorm.

Violence

Very little violence, but what's there is a realistic portrayal of player defending himself against wild animals with everything from guns to crowbars.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Opening of game shows player smoking a cigarette; he regularly collects packs throughout game, along with bottles of wine, beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kona is a downloadable episodic adventure game where players try to solve a string of mysteries in the isolated wilderness of northern Quebec. The game is fairly simple to play, walking the player through most of the puzzles, but it does lack any sort of tutorial that could help newcomers figure things out, and driving controls are a bit frustrating due to the blizzard-like conditions. There's some violence in the game, as players will run into various wild animals and be forced to fend them off with weapons such as axes, crowbars, and guns. Parents should also note that the main character casually smokes cigarettes and drinks alcohol, collecting these items throughout the game.

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What's it about?

KONA is set in 1970 in Northern Canada. Players take on the role of Carl Fauber, a private investigator called in to find out who's been causing trouble for the town's resident business leader. It was supposed to be just another normal case, but you immediately notice that things are far from normal. Everybody has seemingly vanished into thin air. Things take a more supernatural turn as this already isolated town becomes a literal ghost town, the spirits of the villagers frozen in place by some unknown force. Alone and facing the elements, as well as whatever dark forces have cursed the town, it's up to you to discover what happened to the residents of Atamipek Lake -- and hopefully to find your own way to survive the experience.

Is it any good?

Let's get one thing straight right from the start: If there's one thing the developers of this supernatural adventure know, it's atmosphere. From the moment you start Kona, it's hard not to get lost in the amazing look and feel of the Canadian wilderness. You're instantly transported to a place and time that feels authentic and has an eerie feeling of isolation. This feeling is made more intense by the utter lack of human interaction and a raging snowstorm. Unfortunately, the problem with Kona is it's like a bowl of wax fruit. Sure, it's great to look at, but it tastes bland and is way too hard to swallow.

For starters, there's the narrator. This is the only voice you hear over the course of the game, and his performance is weirdly dull yet still overdramatic. Then there's the jumbled mess of controls. Without any sort of tutorial, players must dig around in the options to find out which keys serve which function. There's not even an inventory key. Instead, players have to dig through the main menu wheel to access any items they may have. And finally, there's no real thought required. Whenever a "puzzle" presents itself, solving it is usually only a matter of having the right items in your inventory to combine, which the game does for you automatically. Kona feels less like a dramatic mystery and more like a grade school filmstrip where the player is simply there to advance to the next frame.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in gaming. Does it make a difference if the violence in a game is against humans or animals?

  • Talk about communities. What are some ways that isolated or smaller communities band together?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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