Bear Hug: Alpha Polaris Demo

By John Walker on June 30th, 2011 at 12:44 pm.

One day son, this will all be oil fields.

An adventure game that doesn’t make me want to pluck out my own lungs is always a rare treat, so the demo for Alpha Polaris from Turmoil Games offered a pleasant surprise. Despite an apparent low budget (this is a team of five in Finland, entirely self-funded), the usual hateful elements don’t immediately appear. The voice acting, while nothing outstanding, is inoffensive and does its job. The inventory puzzles (in the demo at least) are logical. And the setting isn’t about a 23 year old girl with a mobile phone trying to find her missing father/solve a brutal murder. It’s much more interesting – a Greenland research centre, where you play a 27 year old Norwegian guy who’s tagging polar bears. Which will apparently find its way toward horror.

But in a nice touch, this is a sop from an oil company, an attempt to give themselves green credentials, and your character is aware of that. And in the half hour or so of game here, you really do nothing more than tranquillise a bear and get it in a cage. It’s low-key, with the hunt of a twist appearing calmly near the end.

It's okay son, he's just sleeping.

It’s also a touch clichéd. Your company is a snarky hot girl, a brash, lewd 20-something guy, and an older, more serious gentleman. None of them say anything surprising, nor introduce a character idea that hasn’t appeared in every game ever. But yet there’s something about the calm that I enjoyed. Atmosphere counts for so much in such games, and it was there for me.

Its inventory is handled well, and lets itself remain open on the bottom of the screen throughout. Plus the cursor is smart – the left and right click options are case sensitive, and display neatly in small icons either side of the arrow. It’s an elegant solution that I’m amazed isn’t more common.

As for the full game? I’m aiming to play it through soon – to see if it survives the inevitable shift into its horror themes. Meanwhile you can play the demo for yourself, and judge whether you want to spend the £17 on the rest of it.

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49 Comments »

  1. Guerr3ro says:

    Mite b cool

  2. Red Rabbit says:

    Nice game. I like the story.

    Although, it’s kind of hard to imagine that the protagonist is supposed to be Norwegian but looks like he’s Latin or from the Mediterranean Basin

  3. Rii says:

    Downloading!

  4. Mr_Hands says:

    Was looking at this last night. Seems interesting enough.

  5. Warth0g says:

    Cant remember when I was even vaguely interested in an adventure game, but consider my interest well and truly piqued. It must be because of the Lovecraftian potential which I’m a sucker for. I hope a Wot I Think is on its way….

    • Bodminzer says:

      Yeah I’m hoping this has an element of Mountains. Unfortunately it won’t be able to revel in the absolute terror and revulsion LC felt towards penguins, but nevermind.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      Same. There aren’t enough games set in the polar regions.

    • Warth0g says:

      Yes indeed, I very much hope that this does contain giant albino penguins. Such a missed opportunity if it doesn’t.

  6. Baka says:

    Oh boy, don’t install the german synchro. Just don’t.

  7. Man Raised by Puffins says:

    I assume the second screenshot is from Horace’s perspective, right before he devours our intrepid heroes for crimes against the ursine.

    Sounds interesting, will have a look-see later.

  8. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    > the left and right click options are case sensitive

    I guess that leaves me out. I’ve never been able to distinguish between uppercase left click and lowercase left click.

    I dread the day when games will require us to click in cursive.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      It’s the BOLD clicks that stuff me, I mean, why would I want to do treat my mouse like that?

    • Jhoosier says:

      I don’t have anything pithy to add to this, I was just curious if he meant “context-sensitive”. I was trying to imaging reading a letter or email and having to click on individual letters or something.

    • Kdansky says:

      Guys, you totally ignored the context this was written in, or else you would have understood!

      Get it? Context! Like context sensitive!

      I should probably not become a comedian.

  9. Daiv says:

    All bears are but three dimensional projections of Horace’s many-angled form into our linear space-time.

  10. yurusei says:

    The horror starts when they discover a giant robot in the ice, and proceed to awake (him / it?)

  11. max pain says:

    But does it have physical entity collisions?

  12. Giaddon says:

    AdventureGamers gave this 3.5/5, which is a decent score for them. I will be checking this out for sure.

  13. Petethegoat says:

    I liked the demo a lot. I’ll probably grab this.
    I thought the characters were reasonably believable, despite being so clichéd.
    The one puzzle in the demo was really good, so yeah. I’m happy.

  14. RagingLion says:

    You had me until “horror”.

  15. ResonanceCascade says:

    I just finished The Secret of Monkey Island and started The Longest Journey. This looks like a lovely way to continue my advent’rin’ kick.

  16. Fwiffo says:

    I hope the dig at 23 year old girls isn’t about the Longest Journey games. :(

  17. phlebas says:

    Sounds interesting so far! Does it break the genre conventions in areas other than protagonist demographic, or is it a linear walkthrough job?

  18. Ian says:

    So are we allowed to re-use all the ice puns we had in the Lost Planet comments threads?

  19. Stardog says:

    I like adventure games, but sometimes they’re a pain in the ass. I collect all the shit, then go to shoot the bear, but the chamber of gun is empty. I go back inside, look around the room where the gun was, don’t really see any bullets, uninstall.

    Also, why go through all the effort to model all of these backgrounds, only to render them out to 2D?

  20. fuggles says:

    That was interesting – reminds me of Syberia in many ways. Protip – press Space to activate hotspots.

    I like the mundanity of the situation in that you are just doing a job, albeit an extraordinary job. No peril, no jeapordy, no adventure, just doing your job. Voice acting was alright, CG was okay, art style decent. I do wish the demo was longer though as you only have one puzzle to solve and I’d probably buy this if I had a little more to secure my purchase.

  21. RP says:

    I gotta be honest, read this as Alpha Protocol and flipped for a moment.

    :(

  22. El Mariachi says:

    I am envious of Scandinavians. They are physically attractive and have good ideas about how to have a society. My fellow Americans seem to have a propensity towards poor diet and running down the street on naked meth binges. It’s too bad, really; we showed such promise once.

  23. Merge Games says:

    It will be available in stores in the UK around the end of August Merge Games are the UK publisher!

  24. Berzee says:

    Indeed.
    A bear game with horror elements?
    Not a bear game for me,
    indeed.

    • Berzee says:

      This was of course meant to be a reply to RagingLion.
      If the horror turns out to not be too horrible I might like the bears enough to make it worthwhile :D

      bearrrs

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