I had a chance to preview Never Alone – Kisima Ingitchuna. A fascinating new indie platform puzzle game about Nuna, a young Alaskan native girl and a white fox as they adventure to stop the endless blizzard.
What’s unique about this title is that it is the first game to be made about Alaskan natives with full assistance from the community. I met the game’s lead writer Ishmael Hope at the Eurogamer EGX show. He gave me an exclusive interview and spoke very passionately about the game and its conception. Listen to what he has to say and my impressions of the game. Interview begins in video at 2mins 37 seconds.
Venom: What was the inspiration for the game?
Ishmael Hope: It was actually Gloria O’Neill who is the chairman of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and she had a vision to make a video game that highlights the people. So we partnered with this company called E-Line media and after they started forming that relationship they called on me as a storyteller and I helped to write it and helped to shape it. So it’s a genuine experience of the Alaskan native people, the Inupiat people of the northern circumpolar region.
Venom: When you say genuine experience what does it reflect of Alaskan life?
Ishmael Hope: Well we have been inspired by one of the Inupiat stories and these stories are absolutely beautiful and magical and mystical and fun. The elders that tell the stories, their wisdom is amazing. So we wanted to have this video game that is closely connected to that world. So we have this story of Nuna, a young girl and her fox friend going on an adventure trying to solve this endless blizzard that’s facing her people. And they are encountering all kinds of things like (as you saw) the Northern Lights sweeping down and trying to take people away, or the blizzard or the man-slayer. Or the little people that are incredibly strong that run across and can get into a lot of trouble!
Venom: What would you describe the gameplay as?
Ishmael Hope: It’s a puzzle platformer. So it’s one of those traditional puzzle platformers, Mario Bros. up to Limbo. But in are case it is closely collected to the world. You are able to go and have a narrative story and a puzzle platformer that’s why it was chosen. Sean Vesce the creative director chose that. What I hope to do is make the story come alive throughout so people feel connected to what they are playing.
Venom: So now that the game is near completion do some of the people who have contributed to it, the Alaskan people, have they an opinion of it?
Ishmael Hope: They love it! The elders love it, are traditional Inupiat-speaking elders. It’s been amazing that they totally embrace it. That kind of support and blessing, there’s nothing like it. It makes us feel good about what we are doing. It’s a real, rich, meaningful experience in a video game and I would never have expected that kind of thing growing up playing video games.
Never Alone – Kisima Ingitchuna will be released as a digital download on the 18th November for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via Steam. Ishmael also told me that E-Line hope to bring it to Wii U early in 2015