Never Alone, A Platformer Telling Native Alaskan Folklore

By Alice O'Connor on May 8th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

It looks... friendly?

One of the many wonderful things about games is that they can be a fine way to tell stories we don’t often hear, bringing them to new audiences and drawing people into the tale. A puzzle-platformer with co-op and a pretty art style is interesting enough in itself, but Never Alone is also being used to transmit culture and folklore of the Iñupiaq and other Alaska Native people. A new trailer gives a peek at the sorts of beasties it’ll introduce to us.

Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna in Iñupiaq) sees young girl Nuna and her fox friend off adventuring over ice floes, through forests, and across tundra. (In single-player you can switch between them, while they’re split up in co-op.) Along the way, they’ll come across folklore characters, some of whom sound more friendly than others, like Manslayer, Blizzard Man, Sky People, the Little People, and the Rolling Heads. I know nothing about any of these, but who wouldn’t want to learn about the Rolling Heads?

“For thousands of years we told stories from one generation to the next,” the announcement trailer explains. “Our stories help us to understand how the world is ordered and our place within it, but what good are old stories if the wisdom they contain is not shared?”

Never Alone’s being made by Upper One Games, a studio founded by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, including several Iñupiaq elders and storytellers. It’s due later this year, to cost $14.99.

For some mysterious reason, embedding is disabled on the new trailer so go over here to watch it.

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25 Comments »

  1. Keyrock says:

    It’s definitely interesting looking and sounding, and I’m all for hearing the folklore of different cultures, rather than just rehashing the same shit over and over and over and over and over again

    /glares in the direction of 98% of fantasy RPGs

  2. Mercury_Man says:

    As a husband and father of Alaskan Natives with native children living outside the state, this is pretty awesome! Hopefully it will be a great way to expose them to the culture.

    • E-Line Seattle says:

      Mercury_Man – we’ve been working very closely with Inupiaq and other Alaska Native storytellers, elders and key community members. Alaska Native input and involvement has been absolutely critical to the project so we certainly hope you feel, when the game ships this fall, that it celebrates your heritage with an experience that makes you proud and want to share it with others! Find our Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) Facebook page and add http://www.neveralonegame.com to your bookmarks :-)

      • Donjo says:

        Good to know! I was initially fairly dubious but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for this :)

  3. Turkey says:

    Looks beautiful. I don’t know if I want to play another puzzle platformer, though.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Tough! You’re not leaving the dinner table until you finish your puzzle platformers, mr!

      • Turkey says:

        Aha, but if I stand on the handle of this fork and drop a crate on the fork head, I can catapult myself back to my room.

  4. lunegov says:

    • spathi says:

      Came in to post the same :-)

      Here’s the same cartoon but with proper English subs :

    • SuicideKing says:

      Wow that was…wow…

    • Hunchback says:

      That was genuinely horrible, horrifying and sick o.O More so than Salad Fingers!

  5. Shieldmaiden says:

    Oh, lovely! I’d definitely want to play it through with a co-op partner. Stories are better when shared.

    • madeofsquares says:

      Yeah, looks perfect for co-op. Reminds me of how perfect my first play through Journey was.

  6. HiFiHair says:

    This looks thoroughly lovely!

  7. Tuckey says:

    Eskimos?

  8. jelmerkla says:

    That face reminds me of Majora’s Mask.

  9. SuddenSight says:

    I look forward to learning more folktales! In elementary school we had some compilations of greek, norse, and russian folktales and I loved reading them. Always fun to learn the stories people tell in other parts of the world.

    I also hope they keep the narrator from the trailer in the final game, and that they have narration in Iñupiaq (if that is the language the trailer is in?). I found the voice very easy on the ears, I love hearing other languages (even if I can’t understand them), and I don’t mind reading subtitles.

  10. Geebs says:

    If it were the early nineties, this game would totally have had a lava level.

  11. SuicideKing says:

    Looks excellent! I’m a sucker for folklore anyway…

  12. rpsKman says:

    Just fantastic. That’s all I have to say.

  13. Darth Gangrel says:

    “who wouldn’t want to learn about the Rolling Heads?” I would much rather listen to the Rolling Heads than the Rolling Stones :P.

  14. Skabooga says:

    Well, now I want to go out and buy a book of Inupiaq folklore because I can’t play the game right now. Which in some ways might mean that the game is already a success.

  15. charmed23 says:

    This looks incredible. Hopefully the industry will keep diversifying its materials. I’m so so so happy indie games have been finding their ways to come out on top!