I’ve always had a thing for games with no discernible goal. No enemies to fight, no crazy powerful boss to either hide from or destroy. Just exploration and taking in the sweet video game atmosphere. The vast enjoyment I experienced in Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition is something that I attribute to the capabilities of next-gen hardware and a welcome lack of coherent storytelling. Debuting on PlayStation 4 last year, and later on PC and Switch, the game now arrives on PlayStation 5.
In Spirit of the North, you take on the role of an ordinary fox. This beautifully rendered fox has no name or clear motivation. At the start of the game, you’re whisked out into the snowy wilderness, seemingly on your own. Eventually, you’ll gain minimal guidance from the Guardian of the Northern Lights; the ethereal spirit of another fox who leads him to various landscapes across the snowy tundra. There’s no clear narrative or dialogue within the game, as there’s no verbal communication between the fox or any observers.
The game splits itself into different chapters that subtly announce themselves by your progression. The story here is something you mostly have to piece together for yourself. However, the game’s intriguing landscapes and varying aesthetics make this experience an enjoyable one.
As you proceed through the game, you’ll discover puzzles accompanied by beautiful snowy landscapes, grassy plateaus and statues that remind me of God of War. The game is about four to five hours long, depending how good you are at puzzles. The game starts out pretty easy, as there are no real challenging puzzles in the first 30 minutes or so. As the Guardian leads you to more destinations, things can become rather challenging. I always found myself helped out by whatever general direction the Guardian walked in.
Having played this on PlayStation 5, I had the opportunity to witness this game at its best fidelity. This is where it truly shines, in stunning 4K and featuring beautiful and realistic snow textures. The fox’s fur is detailed in such a way that I was compelled to gaze at it in photo mode forever. It’s truly hypnotizing. I suggest taking advantage of the camera mode to get a chance to really absorb everything in these gorgeous environments. For the PlayStation 5 version, you’ll even have two exclusive skins to adorn your fox with.
Generally, I would describe Spirit of the North as a nice and easy, low-pressure game to play. It’s also a great tech demo for next-gen open world games. With the winter coming and indoor time inevitable, I recommend picking this one up. It’ll help to wind down and experience something fresh and welcoming, yet all consuming.
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