Update: Today, we learned the Alaskan Natives find the term Eskimo to be derogatory to their heritage. We apologize as we were not aware of this issue. We have removed the term from this article.

On the sixth floor of PAX Prime 2014, we were meeting with 11 Bit Studios to go over some of their upcoming games. As the meeting adjourned, Pawel from 11 Bit recommended we check out the game next to his booth called Never Alone. He explained we would have to see it to believe it, as the game, in his words, “completely blows my mind”. With a recommendation like that, we knew we would be a little late for our next meeting, as we suddenly had a quick change of plans.

Unfortunately for us, the interest at the booth was such we weren’t able to slide right in and play Never Alone. However, our interests was piqued from what we were able to watch on the large TV screen and from the insightful conversation we had with Grant at E-Line Media, the publisher of this game. Without knowing the back story yet, we could tell that Never Alone was an artistically-atmospheric puzzle platformer. This much we were certain of, but in all honesty, we were caught off guard when we heard the actual meaning behind this game.

Never Alone is a 1-2 player experience which chronicles the traditions of the Iñupiat people of the Arctic. In other words, the game is about Alaska Natives, their folklore, and this particular story, “Kunuuksaayuka” (Koo-nook-sah-yooka). A story which has been told for thousands of years. Players will be able to control both Nuna and the white fox. During the course of the game, the duo will have to use their own set of skills and unique abilities to solve puzzles and conquer various challenges. Along the way, they’ll encounter various characters taken from this heritage-laden story, such as Helping Spirits, Blizzard Man, Manslayer and more.

Upper One Games and E-Line Media were approached by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, who are living and breathing Alaska Natives and American Indians, to make a video game which would raise cultural awareness about who they are as people. As Grant from E-Line was telling us about how this project came to be, one quote he used, and massive apologies for not writing down the source, struck a chord with us. He said something to the effect of “We are not a museum piece”, meaning that they’re still fighting for survival, still carving out who they are in the world, and by any measure necessary they’re going to let the world know that there is more to them than what you would want to believe beyond the classic stereotypes.

Never Alone focuses on the core themes of the Alaska Native culture, which are “interdependence, resiliency and intergenerational exchange”.  The story “Kunuuksaayuka” and many other elements of the game have been authenticated by the help of some 30 members of the Alaska Native community. Having these additional resources on the team has helped the developers re-create an authentic story which accurately represents “the key themes, plot and messages of the story”. During the course of the game, players will be able to unlock videos which will further add insight into this community and hopefully give people a perspective into their culture.

Never Alone will be released on November 4, 2014 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.