Back to ’70s
Kona puts players in charge of Carl Faubert, a private investigator who in the fall of 1970 travels with his Chevrolet pickup in the heart of Quebec, Canada’s northernmost part, to meet his employer, the wealthy industrial William Hamilton.
The latter hired Faubert to investigate a series of strange vandalous acts perpetrated against his hunting lodge, located to the north of a small village on the shores of Lake Atamipek: the encounter is set on the country’s only merchant in the area and meeting place for the local population.
Kilometers after kilometer, however, the landscape is becoming more and more glacial and inhospitable, and despite the game being set in October, weather conditions seem to be typical of the coldest periods of the long Canadian winters, so
much so that Carl gets caught, as he does not he brought a coat with him.
The welcome that the village reserves to Carl at its arrival, however, is not the best: a car goes forward in the opposite direction, ice loses control to the driver … and the accident was served: our he awakens after hours on his horn, injured not severely, but finds no one in the abandoned car a few yards away.
And there is no one even when he comes to the store, except for a corpse, who looks at him with vitreous eyes just as he crossed the threshold …
Dilungare further would mean removing the player’s pleasure in firsthand living the mystery behind the affair, and it would be a double offense because the entire narrative sector, while relying solely on the voice of an omniscient narrator and on an efficien
t environmental narrative, is surely the most successful side of production.
The development team has worked hard to give the writing a genuine flavor that encapsulates so many references to the culture and way of l
ife as well as universal messages that can be transmitted by any type of audience, thanks also to a surprising Italian subtitling quality, which does not disfigure word games and even some linguistic finesse.
If you have loved titles such as Firewatch (the development team is obviously debtor), you will appreciate the frosty setting as well as the summed up mix of investigative and supernatural elements: the potential to create a series of games with great narrative impact is all .
screenwriters prove to be very good at driving the sensations of loneliness and anxiety that arise from not meeting a living soul (with only one, and by no means friendly, exception) and not knowing what purpose all the inhabitants of the many homes empty ones where you can nose your nose.
It is a pity then that the final
e leaves a bit bitter in the mouth: Kona excels in creating the climax that leads to conclusive sequences, then slipping onto a banana peel at its most beautiful, with a hasty and unsatisfactory epilogue.
Jack of all trades
Probably scared by the numerous criticisms that a public party reserves for so-called “walking simulators,” or in an attempt to diversify their creature from similarly similar products such as the aforementioned Firewatch, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
or Gone Home, Parables have included elements of survival and even short sections of combat within their history.
This move, in our view, has as much positive effects as other negatives, diversifying, on the one hand, the gaming offer, but also by not fully satisfying in any of the fields explored: at several times during our testing hours we were almost disturbed by certain dynamics, which interrupted what Kona proves to be able to do better, that is, to tell a story with the decisive help of the player, whose intuit
ion and observation capacity are enhanced.
The survival elements of the title are mainly explained through the three constantly-on-screen indicators, that is, the one of health, that of body temperature and stress, though linked together, since the excessive depression of one of the three has adverse effects also on one of the others (when not both).
If the idea, on paper, is good, the implementation proves unconcerned, as it was also natural that Kona is primarily a title based on narrative and investi- gation: to repay the health indicator it’s enough to eat or to take first-aid kits, it will be enough to heat a fire (which also serves as a save point), and to reduce stress you can smoke a cigarette, drink water, warm up or take painkillers.
From the very first adventures of the adventure, the most conscientious gambler in the curious surroundings will literally be flooded with objects that will never make him feel really in danger during his trips to Lake Atamipek; the very same snowdrifts, very well-made, can be tackled by taking the light to fire a fire in nature or getting a winter coat, already in the early adventures of the adventure, that the only NPC will swap with a good bottle of liqueur.