Review: Never Alone: Foxtales (DLC)

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Title: Never Alone: Foxtales
Format: PlayStation Network Download (158.8 MB)
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Publisher: E-Line Media
Developer: Upper One Games
Original MSRP: $3.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Never Alone: Foxtales is also available on Xbox One, PC, and Mac.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Review of the Original Game:
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Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 434 of the podcast.
434

Gameplay:
Building off of last year’s well received Never Alone, Foxtales brings us back to the world of the Iñupiat folklore. Nuna and Fox have returned to play out another story. This time however, they’re playing out a story called “The Coastal Brothers” who will eventually learn respect for nature.

In the story, one of the brothers is a good fighter and hunter while the other is a good swimmer and they need to work together to overcome the many obstacles in their path. Nuna and Fox seem to be pretty much interchangeable early on in the game. The deeper you get however, there are a number of puzzles that require each of them to complete specific tasks and combine their efforts to move forward.

Being DLC, this is a much shorter story than the original but Upper One Games has made the puzzles less obvious this time around. You may be left scratching your head at a number of them when they’re first encountered.

This story plays out almost entirely on and under the water so you’ll have to deal with strong currents and dangerous sea creatures making for a slightly different feel to the gameplay. You’ll spend a lot of time in your umiaq (sealskin canoe) and the rowing mechanic takes a little bit of patience. If you try to be too quick with it you can easily end up paddling in the other direction.

The story is again told by a narrator with animated scrimshaw on screen and Cultural Insights are unlocked as you play. These focus mostly on Willie Panik Goodwin, Sr. who handed the story down to his family. His sons recount growing up with Willie Sr., hearing his stories and learning the ways of the Iñupiaq people. Just as in the original game, it’s a wonderful mix of interesting gameplay and education.

… it’s a much brighter game in general …
I did feel a bit of a disconnect between the game and story since it was about brothers and you still play as Nuna and Fox. I understand why it was done this way but still, it would have made more of an impact with two young brothers as the main characters. Either way, the lesson was still well learned.

Visuals:
While it’s just as beautiful as the full game, Foxtales spends almost all its time around the water. With the strong currents and a lot of underwater exploration, the developers were able to focus all their efforts on those aspects alone and it’s gorgeous.

Foxtales also takes place in the Spring rather than the unrelenting cold, dark winter of Alaska so it’s a much brighter game in general. Blue skies and no heavy snowstorms to claw through make for a much lighter experience. It really helps to show off the beauty of the game.

… a lovely expansion to an already fantastic experience …
Audio:
The audio is again one of the high points of the game with the narrator, the sounds of the water and wind. I actually jumped at one point when I didn’t time something quite right near the end of the game and I met an unexpected end. The sound caught me completely off guard but I won’t spoil it for you here, you’ll know it if and when it happens to you.

Online/Multiplayer:
While the original played better as a local co-op game game, it’s perhaps even more important here. There are a number of puzzles, especially later in the game, where timing between Nuna and Fox is critical. That’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed alone, it’s just that playing solo can be a little more frustrating trying to get through some areas.

Conclusion:
Never Alone: Foxtales is a lovely expansion to an already fantastic experience. More insights into the Iñupiaq people and a nice lesson about respecting nature make it worthwhile.

It would have been stronger with characters that matched the story but I know it was easier to use Nuna and Fox again, plus it was fun to see them again in a new adventure.

It’s certainly shorter than the roughly three hour experience of the original but the $3.99 price tag is just right.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

 

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