As we’ve talked about before, Never Alone is a Pretty Big Deal. Where Assassin’s Creed 3 went wrong with its portrayal of Native American culture and much of inFamous: Second Son‘s focus is on the supernatural, what with Native protagonist Delsin having supercool flame-y powers and all, Never Alone has been made for the sole reason of sharing the stories of the Iñupiaq, a people indigenous to Alaska. A lovely little title, the game follows young girl Nuna and her fox (who is literally named Fox) in a platformer that introduces players to characters from Iñupiaq folklore. Out now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, Never Alone‘s release has seen it make history.
Never Alone Makes History
Yes, Never Alone (or Kisima Ingitchuna in Iñupiaq tongue) is “the First Commercial U.S.-Based Indigenous Video Game”. Not only is that huge for educational reasons (we have literally never seen a game look at Native American culture like this) but with the development team being made up of almost 40 members of the Alaska Native community, the way the game depicts Iñupiaq culture isn’t some sort of Chinese whisper style thing in which clueless game devs are teaching us something they know nothing about.
This is hugely important because not only does it make sure that Never Alone‘s story and influences are as pure as they’re ever going to be (the game even includes narration by Iñupiaq storytellers and videos of the Iñupiaq way of life) but it’s also paved the way for indigenous based games in the future.
Alan Gershenfeld, president and co-founder of E-Line Media (the publisher of Never Alone) explained that:
““Never Alone is a first-of-its-kind video game that reflects the traditions and values of the Alaska Native people while providing great entertainment for players from core gamers and fans of independent games to all members of the family. We believe there is a growing interest in the market for unique game experiences that explore, celebrate and extend global cultures in fresh and vibrant ways. Never Alone marks the beginning of an exciting long-term initiative for us that aims to help pioneer a new genre of “World Games”.
More ‘World Games’ seem set to be a sure thing as E-Line worked with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council to set up the Upper One Games brand and bring more of these games to market. Gloria O’Neill, president and CEO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council adds:
“The mainstream popularity of video games has proven to be an incredibly powerful medium for not only connecting with our own community and youth, but also for celebrating and sharing our culture with the world. We view Never Alone as an invitation to go on a journey that combines engaging, entertaining gameplay with our rich Alaska Native mythology and culture at its heart.”
Never Alone should be commended for being a bold first but I’ll be providing a full review soon to tell you whether its gameplay should be praised too. Keep an eye out on the blog for that.
Never Alone is out now on PC (via Steam), PS4 and Xbox One.