NORTH is a first person indie puzzle game brought to you by Outlands Games. It was released on Steam Apr. 27, 2016 though it is also available on their website just for $1.99. This game plunges you into a unknown landscape as a refugee seeking asylum. With heavy cyber-punk theme and incredible atmosphere this game really brings you into the mindset of a refugee who has come into a area foreign to them. It may be a short game but it does produce genuine though on the whole refugee situation.
You begin the game as a refugee who has recently fled the south due to violence, you left behind your family and now only talk to your sister through letters. As the game starts you are encompassed by the atmosphere of this city, its dark and bleak. You aren’t given any directions,there’s no menu or anything to suggest on what to do. Everything from the buildings and landscape suggest that this isn’t the most welcoming city. Your apartment is no different, its run down, your flat mates are either dying or staring at the disturbing pictures on the walls. The church next door doesn’t seem to make much sense as it rejects you on the bases that you are not seen. Your workplace doesn’t garner much in the way of positive feelings either. You risk your life in dangerous mines and aren’t totally sure why you are doing it. It doesn’t seem like a job fit for humans. Nothing makes sense to you, it seems as if everything in this city makes you feel like you don’t belong here.
Okay so maybe this game ins’t going to be the best looking game of 2016. But it can still have its moments where you come upon a spot where it draws you deeper into the world. If you don’t mind a bit of a older looking game then you should have no problem playing it. As for your settings, there isn’t too much to offer. When you start up the game you are presented with a menu of good and low. This is as far as you can change the graphical settings but if you have computer that has been built in the pass 10 years or so you should have no problem running this game. I would like to note that even my computer was lagging pretty intensely when you are entering the church, it’s also extremely bright when you enter in so just be careful a bit. Overall I’d say that the graphics suit the kind of game this is.
One of my personal highlights for this game is the soundtrack, it utilizes heavily on a dark synth-pop vibe as you progress through your journey. The soundscape draws you into the world, adding another layer onto the thick atmosphere of the city. The music that a game brings to the table is just as important as it’s graphics in story telling. You can really tell the difference it makes. So for any short comings that the graphics have, the dark music it provides makes up for it.
Okay so this game is extremely short, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re good at puzzle games you could finish it in 30 minutes, maybe less. Even if you’re not you’ll probably have in done within the hour. Or if you’re like me you will just stare at the screen banging your head on it because you’re terrible at puzzle games. Not that it’s that difficult but I have never been one to be great at noticing the more subtle things around me. Now this might not sound to great but this game isn’t about really about the difficulty.
NORTH’s purpose is to tell a story. It shows trials and tribulations that refugees in the real world face when they try and find salvation. Even though I’m sure actual refugees aren’t solving puzzles, this game still brings the general confusion to coming into a foreign land where you don’t speak the language. Or have really a solid idea of how to go about gaining your freedom. For your controls you use only your W A S D keys to move around the city.To interact with each puzzle you can either use your left or right click on various objects throughout the world (IE: you can left click the jack hammer in the mines, or right click the cameras throughout the city). Every time you interact with the world or complete a puzzle (there will be a noticeable audio que when you do) this will let you send a letter to your sister. Within these letters you right about your experience in this new city and somewhat give yourself hints on what it is you need too accomplish next. The letters that you send progress the narrative of the story, as you go on it becomes like a journal, each entry being a different experience that have gone through.
Some people may view this game being so short as a downside, however I think that the length works quite well for the story it’s trying to tell. Okay so maybe this game you wont sink hours upon hours into but overall I would say that the experience you get is defiantly worth playing through once. It’s the type of game that if you have a bit of time to spare and are intrigued by a interesting take on the whole refugee situation then it would be worth your while to check it out and play.