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Never Alone review: The Reading Rainbow of video games

Hayden Dingman | Dec. 3, 2014
Never Alone is a fairly ho-hum platformer with an intriguing hook—the culture of the Alaskan native Inupiat people.

Instead, even with all the gorgeous environments Never Alone becomes a chore to play long before its three to four hours is up. And that's a shame because the potential in Never Alone is so high--the game starts out well enough, with you sprinting away from an angry polar bear, and both the aesthetic of the game and the documentary portions are delightful. The whole game needs another layer of polish though.

Bottom line
Here comes the part where I admit I'm scoring this game higher than I probably should. I've struggled and I've struggled and I've struggled with this score, and if you want to leave now and pretend I rated it two-and-a-half or three stars, be my guest. That would be a fair rating, as far as the game itself is concerned.

But I can't. The documentary aspect is so strong, the aesthetic so gorgeous, the ties to the Inupiat culture so interesting not just in the context of this game but in the context of this entire industry, that I can't rate it that poorly.

Like the team behind Rise of Flight getting commissioned by the Russian government earlier this year, or what Ubisoft did with Valiant Hearts, the promise of Never Alone is a future where edutainment is a force again. Not the 90s version of edutainment, but an inception that's polished and factors in decades of lessons in game design.

In other words, a Reading Rainbow for video games. 

 

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