I think foxes are cool, fuzzy animals. Also, guiding spirits are an intriguing concept to use in video games. Mix the two together, and you get Spirit of the North. An exploration/puzzle game at its core, the title has an air of mystery and the otherworldly that helps draws players into its narrative based on Nordic folklore.
A helpful spirit in your likeness is here to provide vague answers
During one of my PAX East 2020 days, I managed to sit down and get a feel for what Spirit of the North is all about. This proved to be a challenge, however. A convention is a terrible place to really understand what a dense game like this is like, especially with a time limit.
My playthrough consisted of trudging my fox through the snow, towards a red streak in the sky. I entered a cave and returned a staff to a corpse of a shaman nearby. This let their spirit break free of our mortal coil and move on, while also opening up a path for my little buddy. Afterward, I spotted a ghost fox and barked at it to wake it from slumber. I then followed the apparition down icy slopes until I found a mysterious carved rock formation. It lit up and my animal passed out and fell down a chasm. As my demo came to a close, I guided my injured fox alongside the spirit until it succumbed to its injuries, which led to the ghost infusing its light into the body, causing a resurrection. I almost cried.
Chatting with the devs about inspiration and ideas
Two co-developers of Spirit of the North, Tyler, and Jacob, were on hand to answer questions after the demonstration. Both of them had careers as environmental artists, which shows in the highly detailed locations of the game. Surprisingly, the title wasn’t inspired by Okami (they had never even heard of it until after Spirit of the North‘s PS4 launch). The game has no dialogue, a deliberate choice by the devs in order to get players to interpret the plot as they see fit. The main red fox character is granted new abilities after the light infusion which helps it solve puzzles, something you don’t get to see in the first chapter. Above all, Tyler and Jacob promised more powerful moments to come in later levels. I hope my heart can take it.
Spirit of the North is aiming to launch on Switch this spring, with the devs taking time to make sure it runs as smoothly as possible. There will be a special and regular physical box sold through Signature Edition. Pre-orders are up now. As always, you can follow any updates on the tile at its official website.
While the demo didn’t excite me on the show floor, Spirit of the North looks like it gets more engaging as time goes on and your fox gains more powers. It certainly deserves your time and attention if you are a fan of puzzles and stories that are open to interpretation.