From time to time, I like to give up the powered, action-packed games I usually turn to and play something more relaxed that doesn’t make me use my brain too much. Although I don’t have many games like this in my collection, it was nice to see something like this coming out next to the PS5 launch. Needless to say, when I had the opportunity to check out Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition, I took the opportunity to see what Merge Games has to offer. Based on Nordic Folklore and set in the beautiful surroundings of Iceland, this is a 3rd person adventure game that had the potential to be special, but unfortunately fell flat.
The story behind Spirit of the North is that you are a fox tasked with discovering how an ancient, once prosperous civilization has suddenly disappeared. With the help of the guardian of the Northern Lights, you will cross the frozen tundra, snow-covered glaciers and rocky mountain slopes while following a wary scarlet path that paints the sky during your journey to illuminate the ruins of the past. The problem I have with this is that it’s all information I learned from the game’s website and not from the game itself. The game immediately puts you on your journey, but it doesn’t do well enough for the player to know exactly why they should care in the first place. I finally got a somewhat proper understanding of what was going on about an hour after the game started, but it would have been nice if the game had been able to convey the Situation to you a little better.
The Gameplay is quite simple and, of course, allows you to walk through the various Icelandic landscapes on foot. You can run if you need to cut quickly over a large area and make your way to rocky outcrops or jump over obstacles. There are also environmental elements such as geysers and ice slides that will allow you to continue your journey. The problem with the jump mechanics is that it is far too buoyant and it causes a lot of problems when you are trying to perform precision jumps. There was a confusing section from the beginning where the little fox hurt his paw, so you can only walk at a Snail’s pace, which made it seem much longer than it actually was and immediately took me out of the experience.
The environmental puzzles are what you would expect from a game like this, but they seemed very uninspired and predictable. It simply involves using the geysers to reach areas that are difficult to jump or rock platforms that swing on a rock pivot to reach places that are difficult to jump. There are moats that you can take in your mouth and put on the side of the various corpses that you will experience. This frees the souls of these former settlers and allows them to travel to the afterlife. There is not much else to do, so most of the game is devoted to racing to the next area.
The graphics in the game is actually the highlight of the whole game. The environments are so varied that I never felt like I was spending too much time looking at the same thing. The graphics were fantastic on my 4K TV and it was really very impressive to be able to see all the hair on the Fox Articulate. Music is also an aspect that developers should be very proud of. However, you will hear the same song repeatedly during the regular sequences of the game, so that after a while you may get a little tired of hearing it.
Overall, while the premise of the game really had great potential, I feel like it just doesn’t offer enough to justify the entry cost of this game. The feeling that I don’t know what’s going on in the game while I’m playing is not fun at all and it just seems that a lot of what’s going on in the game depends on your previous knowledge of Nordic Folklore. This game would be perfect for young players or matures who are just looking for something easy to play. It does not catch you and does not attract you and with the number of games in this Genre, you can simply find better alternatives.