Never Alone was one of my personal highlights of 2014, with amazing storytelling and a visual style which made it a truly refreshing gaming experience. So, you can imagine that it came as a very pleasant surprise to learn that there would be a new story DLC, Foxtales, and I was incredibly eager to return to that world with the new content.
Main characters Nuna and Fox make their return as Spring comes to the arctic world of Never Alone. Whilst playing in the Spring air and celebrating the end of Winter, Nuna and Fox are teasing and chasing a tiny mouse. Forgetting the lesson to respect all living things, they chase the creature into the Nostalgia River where it is caught in the currents and washed away. It’s here that they begin the journey to rescue their new friend to make up for the harm they have caused.
What struck me immediately was how quickly I found myself once again enveloped in the world of Never Alone. The musical score beautifully folds you into the game as the Inuit language narration weaves the story around you. Gameplay remains much the same, with the player choosing to control either Nuna or Fox, each with their own skills which aid progress in solving puzzles and avoiding hazards. Nuna paddles the Umiaq (sealskin canoe) and platforms on the ice, whilst Fox is an expert swimmer and is able to use the spirits to help solve puzzles.
In Foxtales, the story is focused on a sea setting and the puzzles have changed accordingly in line with this new dynamic. Fox can use the spirits to alter jets of water and change the currents to remove obstacles and hazards. As you progress the puzzles become more challenging but never impossible. I did find however that much like in Never Alone, the AI behind the non-player controlled character would at times be frustrating, as it sometimes failed to react promptly and as required, leading to cheap character deaths and triggering a restart of that section.
Foxtales continues to offer insights into Inuit culture, with five new videos explaining the history of the Tale of Two Brothers, which was adapted for this DLC. Learning more about Inuit culture is one of Never Alone’s strongest elements and enhances the experience of both the original game and the new content. Although the new content is short in length, the ridiculously cheap price makes it a great addition to one of the most beautiful gaming experiences I have enjoyed in recent years.
Setting aside a few niggles with the AI and the short playtime, Foxtales is the perfect example of how DLC should be done. If the future of Never Alone promises more adapted Inuit culture folk stories then count me in. Couple the excellent stories with the affordable price point and this, for my mind, is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to revisit the beautiful world of Never Alone and escape real life for a while. The puzzles are challenging without being wholly frustrating, offering enough gameplay without distracting from the natural flow of the story.
For me the strength of this DLC is in the magical way in which you are entwined in the storytelling, making it feel so good to be back in the visually stunning world of Never Alone. The art style creates a breath-taking article landscape and the characters of Nuna and Fox will win your heart anew.
It was a joy to return to the world of Nuna and Fox one more time and I really hope more stories will be added in the future. The atmosphere created by the visual style and ethereal musical score made Foxtales a solid pleasure to spend an evening enjoying.
Never Alone: Foxtales is out now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.