Kona is a survival exploration game with a chilling supernatural edge

I stepped into the general store and found it deserted and in disarray. Not quite ransacked, but whoever was there before had left in a hurry. It had that in common with most of the other homes and businesses that I visited in Atamipek Lake: something had gone wrong but there wasn't anyone left to tell me what. So I started putting the pieces together myself. That's what you do in Kona, you put things together - be they clues or kindling.

You play as a private investigator who visits the tiny town in the northern reaches of Quebec to find a missing person. Your investigation leads you there in the frigid depths of winter, naturally, and one of the most important resources you'll have to manage is temperature. Standing outside in the dead of night will send your body heat plummeting, but it will quickly be restored if you spend a few minutes in a heated room or in the cabin of your pickup truck. You're far enough out in the wilderness that electricity isn't a given, which means you may need to start a fire in a wood-burning stove before you can search for answers. Sort of a Maslow's hierarchy of adventure game needs. 

Don't start fleeing if you're not a huge fan of most survival games (I'm not either). Kona makes fairly light use of the standard ever-depleting bars. You don't have to worry about keeping individual Hunger and Thirst meters topped off, you just have to make sure that you stay warm, don't get hurt, and don't become too stressed out. Seeing upsetting things, dealing with harsh circumstances, and getting into one-car accidents (hey the roads are really bad out there) all contribute to your stress. Having a higher stress level makes you suffer in several areas like a slower sprint speed and a shakier aim, but you can calm yourself down by chain smoking and drinking the cigarettes and beers left scattered around the community.

Why would you need to aim anything? You see, there are these wolves. And they've gotten a bit too comfortable with invading human spaces. One of them was even rooting around in the kitchen of a house while I was exploring upstairs, so they've apparently figured out how to work doorknobs. They're more cautious on human territory, but run into a couple in the woods and they'll happily disembowel you (I never found a gun or anything like that, by the way, just a crowbar that wasn't much help against their snapping jaws).

But they're not the worst you'll find out there. Look around a while and it will become clear that there's something else, something really bad in the forests around Atamipek Lake. Kona was just beginning to dip into supernatural terror when my demo ended - I'll save how it arrives there for you to discover yourself. Suffice it to say that there's a lot going on in this game. Like that omniscient, rustically charming narrator, for instance. Wonder what his deal is?

Every time I thought I had Kona figured out, it gave me another angle to pursue. What started out as a first-person adventure game became a photographic detective mystery became a paranormal survival sim. As I put down the gamepad I got the distinct impression of being on the edge of a precipice. I'm excited to go tumbling all the way down once Kona hits PC around the end of summer and Xbox One and PS4 after that. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of GR+'s news crew, Connor also writes features from time to time and does a lil' streamin'-streamin' on the side. Chrom is his husband and nothing will ever come between them.

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