Just over a year ago, two-man team Infuse Studio released their third-person adventure game Spirit of the North on the PlayStation 4. It’s a game where you play as a fox and journey through an Iceland inspired environment full of Nordic folklore. If you let this game pass you by last year the Infuse Studio and publisher Merge Games are hoping to get your attention this year with the PlayStation 5 remaster, Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition. In a sea of big AAA next-generation titles this holiday does this enhanced edition do anything to make itself worth playing on your fancy new console?
Spirit of the North is a game that goes for a very minimalist approach in how it guides you through its world. There is an underlying story here but there is no voice acting or text to explain it and there is no map or on-screen indicators really to push you forward. It really leaves it up to you to control the fox and explore the beautiful scenery around you. Along the way you’ll run into a female fox spirit who will help guide you on your quest to dispel a plague from the land. While there was no verbal communication in the game, I still felt myself becoming attached to the fox thanks to some well shot cinematic work and great character animation. It doesn’t ask for a lot of your time either as you’ll likely be able to finish it several hours after starting it.
The controls are really simple as the fox can run and jump as well as pick up various objects. Later on, you’ll gain some spiritual powers that let you destroy corruption in the world and perform some other feats. To use these abilities though you’ll need to gather energy for it from blue flowers in the world. The game has plenty of open environments and leaves it up to you to figure out how to proceed. Sometimes this is a bad thing as it can be easy to get a bit lost and be unsure of what exactly you’re supposed to do. While this did happen to me a few times it usually didn’t take me too long to figure the solution out. There isn’t a lot of variety to the puzzles in the game as they usually consist of finding a staff and returning it to the body of a shaman or destroying plague tethers. Some more variety in what you actually did in this game would’ve been nice to have. Another gripe I have with the gameplay is that the controls when jumping to spots in the world didn’t feel as good as they should and led to mistakes that I felt like weren’t my fault as the player.
What Spirit of the North does extremely well though is put you in a beautiful world to marvel at. The game already looked good on the PlayStation 4 but the developer has upped the resolution to 4K on PlayStation 5 and made things like textures, lighting, and effects look even better. Every place you go in this Icelandic environment whether it be ancient ruins or wide-open valleys will have you stopping just to look around at how good it looks. The game also runs at a silky smooth 60fps as well ensuring that performance issues don’t draw you out of the experience. The game has a beautiful soundtrack too which was another thing that helped pull me into the story despite the lack of verbal narrative. A great score can do that and that’s exactly what this game has. The last couple things I’ll mention is that the team added a couple new skins to this enhance version to change the look of your fox and that trophy hunters will find a fairly easy Platinum here to earn should they want to.
Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition is a short adventure game that does a great job of telling an emotional tale without words thanks to some great visual and audio design. The game doesn’t offer much to those who already played it though so unless you really want to play with a couple new skins and better visuals and performance you may want to pass on it. Those who have yet to play it and are looking for a more tranquil experience will likely enjoy exploring these beautiful vistas as a fox for the few hours that it lasts.
*Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition is available now on PlayStation 5. Reviewed on PS5. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition$24.99
- Beautiful 4K visuals help make it easy to get lost looking at the world
- Great storytelling without the use of text and words
- Wonderful soundtrack helps immerse you more in the experience
- You get to play as fox
- Not a lot here to entice previous players to buy it again
- Controls don't feel as tight as they should at times
- Lack of direction can leave you lost at times