“Never Alone” is a game that quickly made an impact upon its debut, thanks to its focus on indigenous Alaskans and introduction to their culture, which led to positive reviews and numerous award nominations. Now the story of “Never Alone” and how it was made will be shared on the YouTube channel of the annual media and technology summit Future of Storytelling, where the game’s creators will speak later this year. It is the second film in the fifth season of FoST Films.
The game is apparently the first of a possibly new game genre called “World Games,” which seeks to educate gamers on the cultures of various countries with historical accuracy and without the feeling of a high school history class. Kotaku stated in its review of the game that “Never Alone” never felt preachy, nor did it shove information down the throats of gamers, as the videos discussing Alaskan cultures are unlockable and optional for viewing.
Development of the game started when Amy Fredeen of the Cook Inlet Council of Alaska teamed up with Alan Gershenfeld, president of Games for Change, to make a game that would introduce fans to the culture. The result seems to have been a success, as “Never Alone” won the British Academy Game Award for best debut and has been praised by critics. At FoST, the two will speak on the subject of “Inclusive Storytelling.”
A review from Engadget praised the game’s beautiful graphics and wonderful snow effects as well as its gameplay, which didn’t reinvent the wheel but wasn’t broken or confusing to play. “Never Alone” is a side-scrolling platformer that lets players control a young girl named Nuna and her pet polar bear called Fox as they navigate through icy landscapes and find their way home.
Fans of the game will be happy to know that Nuna and Fox will return in the very first “Never Alone” expansion pack: “Never Alone: Foxtales.” According to the game’s official blog, the original “Never Alone” was based on a number of Alaskan Native stories, and “Foxtales” will also be based on some new ones that weren’t used in the original game.
Those interested in the pedigree of “Never Alone” can view the video below and subscribe to "Future of Storytelling" for more about the people and technologies behind today’s fast-changing media landscape. “Never Alone” is currently available for download on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Wii U. The expansion pack “Foxtales” will be available next Tuesday.