[Review] North (Nintendo Switch)
Among many other great developers and publishers (10tons, Ratalaika, Image & Form) that are slowly porting their libraries over to the Nintendo Switch to bring their games to a whole new audience...Sometimes You has begun this quest as well. I recently talked about their game One Eyed Kutkh, and also reviewed Energy Balance on my birthday, of all days. They have a very interesting library of games to bring to the Nintendo Switch, and it is nice to see this kind of diversity, even if their games aren't always those that have the most depth.
Hot off my thirty minute play through of the aforementioned One Eyed Kutkh, I did a second play through of North, and it took me about 15 minutes less the second time around as it did the first. The first time through, I took about an hour. Second time through? Maybe 45 minutes. I didn't keep that close of an eye on the clock and had some distractions.
For lack of a better term, I believe that North is what people call a "walking simulator". I never really understood the term. but it does seem appropriate. There isn't much of what most people call a game to be found within. There is a brief story introduction about a dystopian area where you happen to be working. You kind of keep a journal of your progress through the game by writing letters to your sister as you proceed through the game (most of the time these letters are prompted by interacting with something specific along your walk), and when you write these letters, you must return to a mailbox to mail the letters out. At first, you check up on your roommate, take his pills, go to work.
Inside work, you'll find a disturbing creature whom you are responsible for mining it's food. Using the boost you are given from your roommate's drugs, you have to run and turn on each of three jackhammers within a very short time frame. This is the most thrilling part of the game.
Fortunately, it's just under halfway through the game, and things start to get a little stranger from there. Most of North's intrigue comes from your vague and somewhat cryptic letters home to your sister, and from there it is just unsettling imagery and challenges on your perception of the world and your own emotional state.
Everything appears to end on a good note, but it's just as likely to leave you with questions about what the reality of the situation actually is.
North is a weirdly satisfying experience, but it is really more of an avant garde art presentation of an idea than it feels like a video game. I never really found myself caring about what would happen next, but I was intrigued to have some explanation of what was happening at that exact moment. It felt like I was watching an interesting, low budget psychological thriller that never really paid off on making the rest of itself coherent. So, we find ourselves in another situation where North is probably priced just right ($2.99), but still doesn't offer enough in the way of replayability.
North on eShop
Nintendo eShop card on Amazon