A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about the unique culture of the Inupiaq people in this engaging cooperative adventure. The tale of a young girl and a snow fox fighting against all odds to save the world from destruction focuses on teamwork and using each other's strengths to solve problems. Brief, informational videos feature interviews with Inupiaq tribespeople who talk about their history, art, community, and tradition. The videos provide insight into a culture rarely represented in the mainstream media. Never Alone provides gamers with a well-made adventure set against the backdrop of a beautifully told indigenous tale.
Stresses the idea of the individual's importance to the community. Though the heroine faces danger, goodness and bravery ultimately win the day.
Positive Role Models
The heroine is a young girl who sets out alone in a raging blizzard to save her village. She's shown demonstrating skill, courage, and resourcefulness.
Ease of Play
Easy controls. Some objectives can be unclear, leaving you unsure what to do next.
Violence & Scariness
No blood, but plenty of scary moments. Heroine is chased (and can be killed) by polar bears, ghosts, a villainous man, and environmental hazards. Also, her entire village is destroyed, and she discovers its smoking ruins.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Never Alone is a downloadable action-adventure game that teaches about Inupiaq culture through a traditional story with multiple instances of violence. The heroine, a young girl around 10, leaves her village by herself in a terrible snowstorm and partners with a snow fox to save her people; she's threatened by dangerous wildlife, a violent man, and a collection of head-hunting ghosts. There are many ways for her to die, including fire, falling, drowning, and being battered by a polar bear or the villain (an adult male). Like many traditional fairy tales, this teaches its lessons by putting its heroine in danger, then showing how her wits and courage help her to overcome her situation, along with her newfound friend. This game can also be downloaded as an app for phones or tablets.
Is It Any Good?
Never Alone offers beautifully handled single-player or two-player cooperative play, with each character using unique abilities: Nuna uses a bola to destroy barriers, while the fox can climb higher and enlist the help of magical Nature spirits. Beyond interesting playable characters, the coolest thing about Never Alone is the way action is motivated by the arctic environment. The game takes place during a blizzard, so the wind has a strong effect on your progress. It makes for more entertaining and challenging navigation. Also, the game looks gorgeous. Expressing beauty is clearly intentional in Never Alone, although it's a stark kind of beauty. The graphics alternate between delicately handled 3-D models and a more illustrative approach that looks like ancient cave paintings. The styles are surprisingly complementary and effectively communicate the true heart of the tale.
Never Alone's main problems are its inconsistent "follow" function and occasional misdirection. The first is a single-player problem that happens when the following character does stupid things like throw him or herself off a cliff. Clearly, the follower should be smart enough to wait to progress safely, but, alas, it isn't always so. The second problem occurs when your path of progression is unclear. This happens a handful of times and results in many untimely deaths. Fortunately, it's not a huge problem thanks to many closely spaced checkpoints and a fast reload. Overall, Never Alone is both good and good for you. Enhanced by a rich, rarely seen cultural tradition, it represents a near-ideal blend of beauty, educational information, and fun. This kind of game should come along more often.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.