The beautiful setting of Spirit of the North caught my attention from the first time I saw it, so once I arm-wrestled our resident fox-enthusiast for the privilege of reviewing the game, I couldn’t wait to dive into the setting. Don’t get me wrong, the fox is awesome too, but the prospect of a wide-open expanse with tons of exploration was too much to resist.
Spirit of the North Review | Explore the North
While Spirit of the North is primarily open-world exploration, you do need to solve the puzzles in each chapter in order to advance to the next area. As you’re not on a timer, you can take as long as you like romping through the beautiful northern world and relaxing. With the exception of a few tricky jumps across the fox obstacle course that is your environment, this is one of the most relaxing games I’ve played in a while.
The game does have a plot, but it’s stripped of all use of words. This tends to make it a pretty light affair. You, the fox, are accompanied by the spirit of the north, who is a benevolent guardian seeking to rid the land of the plague that it has fallen under. There are other narrative aspects that come across in a very fuzzy way, as the game falls into the pitfall of most wordless games. It’s hard to tell a story without words when you can’t directly control how the gamer interacts with the environment. There’s a side thread of waking up the spirits of dead monks as you go through and the mystery of what the plague is, which were never properly explained. The ending left me with a few additional questions, but that seemed to be a deliberate choice.
Spirit of the North Review | Use Your Abilities
The gameplay here is straightforward, but I’d be lying if I failed to mention how I learned some of my fox’s abilities through reading their names via PlayStation’s trophies. The game does a good job of showing you a quick tutorial whenever you get a new ability, revealing how it assists you in fighting the plague. The pictographs can get a little confusing, but Spirit of the North also does a good job of prompting you when you need to use certain abilities. In the end, it all evened out.
The only real issue that I had throughout my playthrough was an odd one. Parts of the environment would look like they were in one place, but end up in another when I had to interact with them. This wasn’t a huge deal, and I never encountered a whole ledge that wasn’t where it was supposed to be or anything that major. But, when you’re trying to time very precise jumps, it helps to know that the precipice you’re trying to jump onto is a few inches wider than it looks.
Spirit of the North Review | Natural Wonders
As I said above, the graphics and the setting were what drew me to Spirit of the North. The game’s world is rich, featuring a massive and diverse environment to explore. It’s all so beautiful, from the lush mountains to the spirit plagued ruins to the spirit world. Each chapter takes place in a distinctly different location with its own unique scenery and areas to explore. The wonderful soundtrack only serves to enhance the mood. It’s calming, upbeat, relaxing, and motivating. It was absolutely beautiful.
Spirit of the North is a fantastic experience. It’s light on plot but rich in environment and setting, with well thought out gameplay and clear tutorials and mechanics. The main character, the adorable unnamed fox, is a cute and compelling protagonist and it’s an absolute delight to romp around in the wilderness with him. While there are a few kinks to work out, and the story could stand to have a little more substance to it, based on Spirit of the North I’m already intrigued in whatever Mosaic Studios is working on next.
TechRaptor reviewed Spirit of the North on PlayStation 4 with a key provided by the publisher.