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North (Xbox)

Developed by Outlands, NORTH was initially released on PC (Steam) back in 2016 (available for £1.59) and has now been released on PS4 for £2.99 and Xbox One for £3.99. It is also an Xbox One X Enhanced title.

NORTH is an adventure game in which you’ll play as a man who is seeking asylum in an outlandish city filled with strange people who look like aliens and don’t speak the same language as you.

As always, I’ll try to avoid any story related spoilers throughout my review.

With large overbearing buildings set in a dark and ominous world, everything seems incredibly daunting, which is wholly intended. It encourages you to fully appreciate how the character would be feeling and invoke feelings of empathy on your part as the player. The other citizens are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, speaking an alien language which initially will leave you somewhat lost with regards to what you’re supposed to be doing.

One of the things that stood out to me the most is how much I love the music in NORTH, it is well suited to the game with a faraway feel to it. The sound effects and language of the other residents have also been implemented to a high standard, increasing that sense of alienation and isolation which is all important for immersion.

I found the controls to be relatively simple, and you’ll become more comfortable with traversing the world as you familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Your character is confused and to a point, it is intended for you as the player to share the feeling of confusion. There is no map available but thankfully, there are only three ‘levels’ of the game which you can access via the elevator which you spawn next to, at the very beginning of the game.

NORTH is a short game that is intended to be played in one sitting. As a result of this, there is no save system, it realistically shouldn’t take you any longer than an hour (if you’re not playing with a guide). The game is very atmospheric and even though I was constantly on edge thinking something or someone was about to jump out at me, nothing ever did. You’ll explore the strange places around you, wandering from building to building, feeling lost and incredibly confused. Every so often you’ll report back to your sister who is still living back home, in the South and you’ll be able to read a letter briefly outlining everything you’ve recently been through. I really love how important the letters are in NORTH, if anything, it makes the entire story far more believable as I would imagine, given the opportunity, most people seeking asylum would want to retain contact with their loved ones.

There are various puzzles which need to be completed satisfactorily before you’re allowed to progress to the next stages of the game. Some are a little more difficult and obscure than others but with careful observation, you should be able to figure them out. Everything may seem bizarre to begin with but through exploration and sending letters home to your sister, you’ll understand more about the game and what your next steps, or places to visit, should be.

There is just one aspect of the game that I would say was a little off. It seemed that there was so much more to the story that was still to be told but at the end, all you have to do is keep clicking on different letterboxes. I think that there could have been a more intuitive way to close off the story, even if that meant adding another area. The current ending, although I enjoyed the content, was somewhat anticlimactic.  

Overall, I really enjoyed playing NORTH. I thought the story was thought provoking given the problems around the world today regarding the many people who are seeking asylum across the world. If I had to give it a score it would be 8/10. It is incredibly short but arguably, for £3.99, you get what you pay for. I’d recommend it. 

NORTH has 10 achievements available for a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. A short achievement list which is completable in around 1 hour or less (if you happen to be using a guide) of gameplay. If you need any help or guidance with any of the achievements, then head over to True Achievements where you will find plenty of useful information.

A game code was provided for the purpose of this review. Thank you!
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