I love first person perspective adventure games, so I was pretty exited when I was given the chance to preview the narrative-driven Kôna: Day One, by Canadian developer Parabole. Playing as Carl Faubert, a former war veteran turned private detective, you are hired by a rich industrialist who has accused the local Cree community of vandalism and theft. Your job is to find evidence and fully investigate the validity of these claims.
In Northern Canada, you start out by traveling to Atamipek Lake to investigate the claims of your client. As you enter the eerie, seemingly abandoned town, you travel between destinations and gather information that you put together to determine what has happened. Overwhelmed by the cold snowdrifts and the calm silence as the wind howls, you search abandoned houses for any clues and supplies that may aid you while trying to stay as warm as possible. Vast open spaces are yours to travel on foot, as your truck only takes you through the main roads. If you get too cold, you need to quickly find a heat source (either by making a fire, or rushing back to your truck).
Your extensive search for any logical sense of what happened in this deserted town is quickly interrupted by supernatural events that you can’t describe. You will piece together strange things you’ve seen and try to interpret their meaning. As you scavenge supplies, you gather random items that you’re not sure what to use it for. Do I really need this steak? Sure! Do I know what I can use it for? No idea. A robotic sounding, almost mechanical narrator mysteriously talks throughout your search. Aside from the blustering wind, his eerie tone and occasionally strange statements were the only consistent things I heard.
I found the controls used to navigate Carl’s movement and access your items were easy to use, and in-menu options to combine and create items was done without much difficulty. Driving a truck, however, seemed challenging at times. Your field of vision was a bit limited inside the truck, and sometimes steering would be difficult as you hit nearby trees while consulting your map. The map itself didn’t document the names of the places you had visited, which was a little frustrating not knowing whose house your were rummaging around in to until you were elbow deep in their personal things.
The fully enveloping silence and snowy environment made the game a lonely experience to the point where I was at times losing interest. I really lost myself in finding every last clue, to the point of getting frustrated. There was an incredible amount of detail to the interior of the truck, the snow, the trees, and the way the wind blew. I enjoyed interacting with items as small as pictures, opening cupboards to scavenge supplies, and reading private medical notes.
Kôna: Day One definitely has promise, but has a lot of work to go. Improving the map, the creepy robotic narration, and having more guidance on what to do next would definitely improve my experience. I would love to see SOME type of interaction with another character, but I think what makes this game stand out is the desolate feeling it leaves you with. Given that any perceived downsides are my observations from a game that’s not fully complete, I have to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that it will be much more enjoyable upon its official release.