North is Short game, or rather, an experience that you can beat in about 20-40 minutes. This concept it somewhat interesting, but I hope they clearly advertise is as such in all digital storefront. Why don’t we see if this is worth your time (even though it doesn’t ask a large investment of it)
You play as a man who has just escaped from the South, in hopes of finding a better future in the North. A strange city with even stranger customs and inhabitants. You have to prove that you’re an abiding citizing by going to work, getting screened by doctors and the police so you can succesfully apply for asylum.
You don’t speak the same language as the other (inhuman looking) inhabitants and your only form of communication is sending letters to your sister.
Graphics & Audio
It’s not a good sign if your game’s best looking screen happens in the title sequence, but that’s just the case here. At times, North looks like someone gave a 20 year old PC game a bit of polish and called it a day. Shadows, lightning, textures… even the font all look a bit cheap.
The sound is one of its redeeming qualities, often giving a Blade Runner-like vibe and really succeeding in transporting you into what the eighties thought the future would look like (bleak and depressing). While the environments and soundtrack vary a lot from moment to moment (surprisingly for such a short game) at the very least they are consistent in setting the cyberpunk atmosphere.
At it’s core NORTH is just an exploration type point and click game (with a very minimal amount of clicking required) and the main challenge is in finding out what to do to beat the game. This is where those letters to your sister play a big role, as each time you discover something new you can go to a postbox and send a letter, getting your protagonist’s opinion on what to do next. In Essence you just need to get a few papers signed:
- Prove that you are a good worker (by collecting 3 objects in a limited amount of time)
- Prove that you are a believer (by being seen by 5 camera’s and then going to the church)
- Prove that you are a good citizen (by clicking on computer screens and only choosing the images of a child)
- Prove that you were prosecuted in the south (by having doctors read your dreams and discovering that you are gay)
Then you go to the asylum offices and… congratulations, you beat the game.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a video of me beating the game in about 15 minutes and I didn’t even take the optimal route and had to backtrack twice too many:
There is also no saving mechanism (but it doesn’t really need one as it’s intended to be finished in one sitting) and no settings menu. This frustrated me a lot as I’m used to having the Y-Axis inverted and there was just no way to change this or the responsiveness of the camera speed, which made it a disorienting experience for me.
NORTH is more of an interactive art-school short movie than a true game. It has very little story to tell and the visuals are often subpar. Luckily the audio is a redeeming factor and since it’s so very, very short you won’t have to spend too much time playing it. And yet, I still see this game doing rather well commercially on Xbox as the 1000G are among the easiest to earn ever and achievement hunters everywhere will be looking forward to adding it as another notch to their belt. Perhaps that also explains why it costs $5 on the Xbox Store, while it’s only $3 on the Switch and $2 on Steam.