Kona: Day One – Quick Game Preview (Beta)

Kona: Day One – Quick Game Preview (Beta)
Kona: Day One (PC [Reviewed])
Developer: Parabole
Publisher: Parabole

Kona: Day One is an atmospheric adventure shrouded in mystery, with some survival elements as well. The game is currently in beta/early access, so only some parts of the game are accessible.

The game takes place in northern Canada during a blizzard, and you are sent to investigate the small community. The game is very immersive, and the gameplay heavily revolves around exploration to find clues, various crafting items, and figuring out puzzles to solve the mystery of what happened in the town.

You drive a truck around to cover distances quickly, and normally I don’t like driving with keyboard, but the truck handled extremely well, too well actually, considering there’s a blizzard and snow on the ground, but at least it wasn’t frustrating to use. You are stuck on the main roads though, and aren’t able to take the truck off road at all, so you also do a fair bit of hiking.

The story so far is intriguing, and you learn about some of the characters through visions as well as various texts that you will find by exploring the areas thoroughly.

Sounds effects are fantastic! I love the sounds of the wind and snow blowing through the trees, and the crunching of the snow under my feet. Reminds me a lot of how Firewatch felt so alive. The narrative in Kona was good, and I liked the dialog, but I felt like the narrator’s voice sounded a little too much like movie announcer, and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the characters in Firewatch.

Pros:
  • intriguing story so far, and it will leave wanting more
  • sound effects, and music are fantastic and help to create an immersive atmosphere
  • environment looks good (love the reduced visibility in the blizzard)
  • the dialog is good, the narrator tells it well
  • there are some traits that you need to maintain to survive (temperature, stress, and health), but they aren’t too challenging to keep up on, so they don’t take away from the exploration or become a chore
  • the truck handles well, while driving the truck with WASD
  • you can use the back of the truck as storage when you hit the maximum carrying capacity
Cons:
  • it’s weird that you WANT your stress level to be at 100%; when I first started, I thought that stress was bad, and that I had to have closer to 0%, so I think that should be changed to be a little more clear.
  • can’t look at the map while parked in vehicle (it’s silly to have to get out to check the map) UPDATED: The map is now accessible while driving through the menu.
  • feels like the driver’s view is too far back from the dash (you see too much of the truck’s interior)
  • couldn’t scroll down to read all the text, so some details were missed
  • some minor texture issues with trees and rocks changing as you move closer to them, and it did hurt the immersion slightly (but I expect that will be fixed up before release)
  • models for the wolves are not very well animated compared to the rest of the game, and you can’t kill the wolves by running them over with your truck

I enjoyed the overall look and feel of the atmosphere, but there was one thing that really bothered me… The character you play as is a detective, so I presume that he has decent observation skills, however, he takes a trip to northern Canada, into a blizzard, and he doesn’t even wear proper clothing!! Ok, I don’t know why, but this really bothers me a lot more than it should. As someone who lives in Canada, who has shoveled snow in a blizzard, it just blows my mind to see my character with bare hands, and it makes me cold just thinking about it. I also imagine that my feet are freezing, and I am probably not even wearing a toque either. Please, let me put some gloves on!! Please?

Conclusion:

I played beta for roughly 3.5 hours, but since some of the content is locked for beta, I can’t complete the story, but I am looking forward to the full release. So far, the game feels good, and is a mostly enjoyable experience, but I would like to see some of the things that annoyed me get improvements before full release. If you enjoy atmospheric exploration adventures, then Kona might be right up your alley.

Review copy was provided by the developer.