To tell an interesting story without words, you need to correctly place emphasis on other components. The visual series should show more and look at the essence of things. And the music has to take on the role of the voice, which refers directly to the senses. Since the discussion in this review will focus on the platformer, responsive gameplay should also occupy an important place. A feature of Spirit of the North is that it plays a leading role in exploring the mysterious world of the north and solving puzzles. Infuse Studio has set itself an unusual task and it will be doubly interesting to find out how fun such an idea has turned out.
Snowy mountain ranges
The story of Spirit of the North begins with a walk along the snowy mountain ranges. We, in the role of a curious fox, find a path marked by stone structures. And when we meet the skeleton of a monk tormented by icy winds, it becomes clear that we have attacked the trail of some kind of civilization. But what led the ascetics to such a sad end?
The fox spirit helps us find answers. We meet her in one of the once holy places. An incorporeal companion helps our warm-blooded hero overcome magical obstacles. But at some point they are disturbed by traces of something sinister. Some kind of evil force entangled the living edge with its poisonous roots. Having reached one of the foci of infection, our hero falls into the grip of destructive fumes and falls upon the cold rocks with a lifeless red lump. Taking the body of his new friend, the spirit of the fox brings him to a sacred place, where he gives him his strength. Magic resurrects the fox, but the ghost of the benefactress becomes a subtle grit. From this moment, the heroes at full speed embark on a fabulous journey, where they will have to find out the secrets of the perished culture, and also heal the northern lands from the misfortune that befell them.
Moving around the world of the game is breathtaking, since the locations in it are large. Sometimes huge. At the same time, the graphics are made in a mixed style, where realism is adjacent to animated features. When magnificent instrumental music inspired by the spirit of the wild nature of Iceland comes to this background, an atmosphere of a magical, alluring secrets of the world is created. The developers have achieved a strong immersion, where the player can stay in a meditative state. When a story is presented without words, this exacerbates the perception and makes the player catch every sound and every detail of the environment. By the way, the latter is done wonderfully. It carries a semantic load and reveals the plot. Also, the location design is a ripe basis for juicy puzzles that scatter their branches sometimes through the entire level.
The way puzzles often use large spaces expands the gaming mind well. This makes you think ahead and look for solutions to puzzles, having previously built a ladder in the brain from the previously scattered steps. However, platforming is also an important part of puzzles. In many places, you need not only to understand what needs to be done, but to quickly and quickly rush through obstacles.
Angles to different slopes
Jump mechanics in the game are quite peculiar: a sort of viscous jumping. The fact is that our chanterelle lacks an angle of rotation around its axis, it seems to be a little constrained and not bent, like its brothers from real life. We have to carefully choose the slope before the maneuver. But when we jump from platform to platform, then the fox sticks to the surfaces, sometimes climbing at inconceivable angles to different slopes. Also, if we do not jump somewhere perfectly, then the character still clings to the edge of the ledge and gets into the desired place. The game does not punish for inaccurate movements, and this platforming viscosity serves as a kind of shock absorber to the chained fox’s maneuverability. But as for the long jumps, here our hero has no equal. His body is so stretched forward that it reaches locations in the dark.
From the very first moments, the developers show that they do not consider the player a simpleton, expect from him a certain brain activity and attentiveness. There are no clues in the spirit of modern casual chewing gum. Spirit of the North brings to mind the games of the old school in their authentic splendor, where you had to get to everything yourself. When you understand that it is vitally important to climb into unimaginable places at first, then you begin to study the surroundings especially carefully; each ledge looks lovingly at you and wonder where this path will lead you.
The main source of unusual gameplay experiences is the ability of the reborn fox. It is based on the hero’s talent to be a conductor of magical energy. This subsequently provides three key skills: exploding a spiritual flame that destroys traces of dark forces; the ability to go into an incorporeal state in order to penetrate obstacles and run on water; magical leaps.
Spell on interactive
When using a spell on interactive objects or after an explosion, the fox seems to lose its charge. You can find it again with special blue flowers: it’s enough to muffle alongside them. Yes, our red-haired protagonist barks no worse than any dog. By activating various totems with the help of energy, we launch the millstone of ancient mechanisms and make our way to the mountain, which, apparently, is the source of pollution.
Speaking about the roughness of the project, I want to point out key features that can both affect your fun and pass barely noticed. As already noted, some locations are huge. These open spaces, although they serve to scale this adventure, often do not have a functional purpose. At the same time, in search of a puzzle solution, you have to carefully comb every corner. This leads to the fact that in some places you wander in vain in a large piece of the level. In such places, sometimes there’s simply nothing to see. And the penultimate level in this matter is able to drop the jaw of the player below the baseboard. From such a scale, my head went round at first, but then I realized that this was a feature of the challenge of this particular chapter. This is a controversial, but immersive and unusual test, which is also fully justified by the plot and leads to an impressive ending. By the way, the ending brings a lot of pleasure and all efforts are naturally rewarded.
Another feature is that you often have to wind long distances, returning back. In this game you cannot die, there is no life counter. But if you happen to make a mistake in terms of acrobatics when overcoming another dynamic puzzle, then the game punishes you with backtracking. Not to say that it was nice, but, to my taste, better than death and the need to start a level or game from the beginning.
Technical execution also needs additional polishing. In my case, a couple of problematic issues arose. For example, starting with the fifth chapter, the finding and activation of shaman staves at their bodies becomes mandatory for further advancement. It was at this moment that the game treacherously failed. To bark and get magic from one of the blue flowers, I, as usual, laid the staff on the ground. But to my horror, the textures immediately consumed it in their bowels. Having run around the original location of the relic and other key points, I never found a replacement for it. And without it you won’t move further on the plot. As a result, I had to restart the chapter first through the main menu.
At another point, it was necessary to fill the tank with water from four wells. It so happened that I activated them in the wrong order, and one of the key location mechanisms was blocked. There was no alternative way to solve the puzzle. But, having practiced parkour in various corners of the level, I found a gap in the textures, in the manner of some speedraners, and got out of an unexpected trap.
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