Review – North (Xbox One)

Publisher Sometimes You is currently releasing new games at a staggering rate. North might be the fifth or sixth game I’ve seen from them released in this year alone, and I doubt it will be the last. I have to appreciate the publisher for constantly releasing games from different genres and for giving avant garde and experimental games a chance, but there’s a moment when enough is enough. North is yet another Sometimes You release, yet another experimental title, yet another subpar experience despite its good intentions.


I ain’t cleaning that up

North is a game devoid of a pause screen, devoid of tutorials or explanations about what the heck is going on, and also devoid of a long duration time. The developer acknowledges the game is short (it can last less than an hour if you know what to do and where to go) and suggests for you to finish it in one sitting. Alright, got it. I did that and have to acknowledge that, for a simplistic walking simulator, the message it wants to deliver are easy to comprehend and valid in today’s society. The game delivers a message regarding refugees, prejudice and immigration, all while drowning itself in a Blade Runner-esque coat of paint.

Gameplay-wise, North can be summarized as a handful of very easy puzzles interconnected by a pseudo walking simulator open world. The game tries to diversify with its simplistic tasks, cryptic plot and hint system, but it fails to engage players since it’s extremely short and completely devoid of replayability. Your task is to guide your character inside some buildings in order to trigger some very easy puzzle minigames. Everytime you find something that requires a bit of logical thinking, you have the option to send a letter to a postbox. Each letter has the exact explanation on how to beat said minigame; North‘s own strategy guide. While this letter system is interesting as it’s the way the game provides us with any semblance of a story, it is also one of its biggest flaws, removing any shade of difficulty from an already easy (and short) game.


Blade Runner 2049 called, it wants its creepy enterprise imagery back

Technically-wise, North might be better looking than other Sometimes You titles (especially when comparing it to games like Energy Invasion or Where Are My Friends), but it’s far from being an amazing visual achievement. The game uses tons of simple geometric shapes in order to create a somewhat convincing cyberpunk atmosphere, reminiscent of Blade Runner. The soundtrack is very hit-or-miss, as half of the game features absolutely no music while the other half features the same type of synth heavy tunes you’d find in Ridley Scott’s masterpiece.


Stuff of my nightmares

While I give North credit for trying to tackle relevant social issues in a somewhat experimental gameplay style, I can’t ignore its technical simplicity, short duration and lack of replayability. It might be an honest attempt at bringing artistic gaming to the masses, but I feel like its publisher is selling it just like the previous games it released: as a quick, cheap and easy way to get 1000 points or a platinum trophy. North is alright, but it could have been a lot better, and a lot less cryptic.

Graphics: 6.0

Creative visuals assembled with very simplistic assets, textures and lighting effects. Runs at 30fps, while the PC version runs at 60fps.

Gameplay: 6.0

Some very easy puzzles here and there, coupled with your good old walking simulator gameplay, or lack thereof.

Sound: 6.5

The game alternates between moments with loud synth-heavy tunes and moments with little to no sound. It’s not great but it knows how to create a somber atmosphere.

Fun Factor: 4.0

The game does a commendable job by trying to be innovative and avant garde, but that doesn’t translate into fun gameplay. Interesting, but not fun. It’s also just an hour long.

Final Verdict: 5.5

Reviewed on Xbox One.
Also available on: PS4, Switch, PC