After being released at the end of 2019 exclusively on PlayStation 4, Spirit of the North arrives today on PC and Nintendo Switch.
Developed by Infuse Studio, a development house consisting of only three components, the game is their first actual project after initially focusing their work on creating assets for Unreal Engine.
Pad in hand, we find ourselves exploring the boundless Icelandic landscapes, passing from snowy and icy areas to others with endless expanses of grass and buildings in ruins.
We took this journey on the Nintendo Switch thanks to a code that was kindly granted to us in preview, and now we are ready to talk to you in depth about the title!
Yin e Yang
In this adventure we take on the role of a red fox, which wanders in the midst of snowy expanses.
We will begin this journey alone, only to find a companion in the midst of desolation: a ghostly fox.
This will begin to guide us on our path and give us the strength to overcome adversity, eliminating the corruption that is ravaging the territory.
There is never a direct narrative and the game will never show us a path. On the other hand, the latter will be rather intuitive, also because in the sky we will have as a perennial clue to orient ourselves an unnatural red trail, representing the rampant corruption.
In addition to our protagonist, there are no other living beings: the only traces of human life are buildings now in ruins and skeletons that are sometimes not even intact. Some of these skeletons are from shamans, which must be reunited with their sticks in order to free their spirits.
Spirit of the North lets do the talking the settings, which suggest a hint of history and they give us a reason to go on with this journey.
In addition to this, around the map we find statues and other iconographies of foxes, not too veiled references to the Icelandic folklore that permeate throughout the work.
The title proposes an experience that in some ways can remember Journey, title developed by Thatgamecompany. Looking at the style of the narrative, the comparison is almost inevitable.
There are obvious differences going to see the gameplay component of the two titles, but what they have in common is thatpoetic atmosphere that permeates the whole adventure.
The power of the Spirit
During our journey we find ourselves making some platforming sections and to solve some little puzzles initially easy, but which then gradually become more and more complex, even if never too complex. As we progress with the story we unlock gods powers that allow us to exploit the abilities of the spirit that follows us to proceed and to eliminate corruption.
To use the powers we must first find some blue flowers, which especially in the early stages are generously scattered in the rooms. By placing on them and pressing A to make our fox trouble, the latter is covered with blue symbols.
When we are "charged" we can perform one of the following actions: with X we move the tail to illuminate special stones with carved symbols; with Y we evoke the spirit of the fox, who can access areas inaccessible to us to solve puzzles; by holding A, finally, we load an attack that serves us to destroy the sources of corruption, which sometimes prevent us from moving forward.
The puzzles mainly concern the first of the powers described: by turning stones on or off we open passages, or, to give an example, we raise the water level to access previously unreachable areas.
Other stones, on the other hand, have parts to rotate, and we do it by hitting A until we find the right combination.
The less successful part, Unfortunately, about it platforming, quite a fundamental part of the gameplay. The movements of our fox are not precise enough to allow us to calibrate the jumps. Often we find ourselves making the wrong jumps for this reason, other times we find ourselves wedged between one rock and another or suspended in midair even if we have made the jump well.
As we have already mentioned before, there are shamans who must be reunited with their sticks in order to free their spirits. These consist of collectable: we find them if we decide to take more time between a large area and the other, but they are not essential for the completion of the game. However, they allow you to extend the playing time by an hour or two, coming to have a total experience of five or six hours.
The voice of music
True protagonist of Spirit of the North is the soundtrack. The various songs are quite inspired and come to convey a variety of emotions as we continue with the story. Joseph Gifford, composer of Infuse Studio, has shown great mastery by giving a voice to the game through his songs.
The only wrong note of the entire audio sector of the title is the fox trouble which, felt and resented during our experience, it sounds more like a dog barking. Obviously it is not a very significant defect or that affects the quality of the title.
Spirit of the North's scenery is simply breathtaking. The settings, whether it's a snowy descent or endless green meadows, are solemn and memorable. In addition, the scenarios are all quite vast, with various optional areas for hunting collectibles, and are treated in every detail.
The same goes for our fox, which shakes itself every time it comes out of the water and which gets anxious when we make it run for too long, slowing its pace. Except for the jumps, which we talked about earlier, every other movement has been studied with great care.
We played the title on Nintendo Switch, mainly in handheld mode: the frame rate is stable and never slows down. THE uploads they are not many, and when present they are rather short. The only thing we noticed while playing is that sometimes, in larger scenarios, you may notice the texture loading as we progress.
Two foxes, one destiny
Spirit of the North is an experience we cannot help but recommend. From the rhythmic and relaxing rhythm to the wonderful soundtrack, it is about an excellent debut for the guys of Infuse Studio, who have conveyed all their love for video games in this title of theirs.
It is certainly not a game suitable for everyone, but which, for those who want to give it a chance, can reserve some nice surprises with its poetic and melancholy atmospheres.