NORTH is a first-person adventure game developed by Outlands and published by Sometimes You. It tells the story of an unnamed protagonist from a foreign land in the south who travels north to apply for asylum to get some sort of help. Upon arrival, he is met with strange creatures and bizarre surroundings that make him question his move altogether. He must now scour the landscape looking for the answers he needs and finally getting the help that he sought after in the first place. Are you going to be able to help him or you will just be as lost and confused as he is?
In NORTH, the main concept of the game is to complete various tasks to get accepted into this fancy asylum you traveled all this way to get into. The game starts out by dropping you in the middle of this bizarre city and tells you nothing, absolutely nothing. You then must wander aimlessly around this town, interacting with different objects and checking the mailbox every couple minutes to figure out what the best option for progression is. The mailbox is the most crucial element of this weird title as it can help you out in a pinch. The protagonist uses the mailbox to communicate with his sister who was unable to come with him. Unfortunately, these letters are the only way to get any type of story out of this game. Although your character seems normal from his letters and writes in perfect English, the members of society around you are grey alien creatures that spew gibberish, that you seem to coherently understand I might add!
The main gameplay mechanics presented throughout the game are some crazy puzzles intermittent between moments of exploration. These puzzles are not hard, but are very strange and can be quite elaborate. For example, one of the challenges that they present you with is shutting off a bunch of drills at your new workplace. However, the temperature is too hot in the building and you can only work for so long before dying of heat exhaustion. These little quirks are what makes the game revolve around the communication you have with your sister, insisting that the player does not go long without returning to the mailbox.
NORTH does not offer much for the player to do. I understand that the game is more of a visual experience than a game, hell the opening cinematics states that it does not have a save functionality and that it is meant to be beaten in one sitting. Usually, I really enjoy games like this because even though there is not a lot going on, the story is really good or the game is pretty enough to warrant searching every nook and cranny to appreciate the environment around you. I did not enjoy NORTH as much as some of the other games I reviewed in this genre. I thought the story was interesting at first, but as it went on it didn’t make much sense. Also, I didn’t really care about the character I was playing. In games like The Station, I felt a relationship between the characters on screen and wanted them to achieve their goals, but this protagonist felt lifeless. The visuals and sounds were not the game’s strong suit either. The visuals were crude and dark and didn’t present much appeal. This game is meant to be explored and I had no interest going through dark hallways and alleys that lead nowhere. In addition, the sounds reminded me of a game out of the late 90s. They were harsh and the NPC’s gibberish just fell flat.
In the end, NORTH was a bizarre experience that fell short in a lot of ways. The game is priced at $5 USD, which isn’t awful, but I would not expect much out of this game. It last around 45 minutes at most and can meet even quicker if you rush through it. North contains easy achievements if you are interested in that kind of thing, but you could honestly watch someone play this game and end with the same feeling as if you had actually played the game. So, purchase that train ticket, things might be going south quicker than we think!
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 5/10
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