Some time ago Never Alone was released onto consoles, and received a mixed response from critics. It’s easy to see why; while it’s a fantastically told story and a thoroughly charming platformer it’s not the most difficult game in the world. And yet, having played through it for the first time as part of this review I can’t bring myself to agree with the negativity which some reviewers piled on it.
If you haven’t heard of Never Alone before, the premise of the game revolves around an ancient Iñupiat tale, narrated in traditional language and telling the story of a young girl who sets out to find the source of an endless snow storm which is causing problems with her village’s hunting. As she braves the harsh conditions of the Arctic she’s joined by a mysterious fox who helps her on her quest. The story is full of mystery and magical events, and plays out a fascinating sequence of events which also unlock documentary-style videos which you can watch at your leisure to learn even more about the fascinating people behind the story. There’s co-op play on offer here too, with two local players controlling a character each, something which is pretty handy in some areas when flicking from the girl to the fox can be quite awkward in terms of timing and assuming the computer controlled character won’t wander off into trouble.
Never Alone isn’t difficult, but where the challenge lacks there’s plenty of charm and solid game mechanics in play to make up for it. The puzzles in place go barely beyond a slight crease in the brow while you figure it out, but I found myself mesmerised more by the story itself – the difficulty of the game itself didn’t really strike me until later.
Now, however, there’s more. The Foxtales DLC introduces a whole new story, involving both of the characters from the main game as they try to save a small mouse from harm. The story takes more turns throughout the three levels on offer, and while it’s not the biggest DLC in the world (you’ll get a couple of hours out of this one) the puzzles on offer are far more challenging than those found in the main game and will stretch you a little more in terms of figuring out how to go about some of the tasks required. Continuing from the latter stages of the main game, the fox can still manipulate spirits (and indeed, most of the puzzles revolve around this) so choosing the right character at the right time is a pretty vital element to Foxtales. It’s another fantastic traditional story, culminating in a big boss fight against a huge rat which is a pain in the arse if you’re on your own, but a far more sensible challenge if someone else is sharing the responsibility with you.
As with the original part of the game, you’ll be looking for owls to unlock the video segments. Some of these are easy to stumble across, others are a little more tucked away and will need you to do some searching to find them. It adds a nice dimension to the game away from the main story, and with the videos being genuinely fascinating to watch it’s definitely worth taking the time to look and learn a few things while you’re playing.
Essentially, it boils down to this: if you already own and enjoyed Never Alone (which is very likely if you picked it up as a PS+ freebie not long back) ths Foxtales DLC is only a few quid and will give you a chance to relive some of the charm of the main game. But if not, never fear – the bundled version (the Arctic Collection alluded to in the title) contains both elements and is, if you like platformers will some genuinely interesting storylines behind them, very much worth picking up.
Reviewed on PS4