PAX Prime 2014: Never Alone

If games that Mean Something mean something to you, then let’s talk about Never Alone. Mechanically, it’s a two-player co-op platformer in which one of you is an artic fox and the other is a native Alaskan (Iñupiat) girl. If one of you dies — falls into freezing water, etc. — then the game is over for the both of you. One of the buttons braces you against the wind. And the characters have differing abilities, so they must always help one another around obstacles.

But beyond the simple but effective gameplay you’ll find something like an in-depth National Geographic piece on the Iñupiat people. Beliefs about the spirit world, myths about shapeshifters, and stories galore infuse every aspect of this game. The struggles of the girl and her friend become your struggles, and you get more of a sense of being someone else, somewhere else, than videogames typically give.

I could tell you specifics that I’ve learned during my time with the game, but I wouldn’t be doing you a service. Next time NatGeo’s a re-run, explore Never Alone.

Ron Newcomb

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