Alpha Polaris Review

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Turmoil Games

Released:  June2011

PC Requirements:  

  • Intel P4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor

  • 1GB system memory

  • Graphics card with DirectX 9 support

  • 1280x800 display resolution

  • 700MB hard disk space

Additional screenshots



by Rushes


Here we are at Alpha Polaris, an oil research station in Greenland. You assume the character of Rune Knudsen, a 28-year-old Norwegian biologist undertaking a field study on polar bears. As Rune gradually becomes aware that something is not quite right at Alpha Polaris, powerful ion storms sweep the sky, and the group begins to suffer the negative effects of nightmares and psychological disturbance. Something (or someone) is out there, and it’s closing in. Are the ancient bones and marked hide brought back from a recent expedition the cause of the unrest? Isolation and paranoia take hold. Will anyone make it out alive?

Alpha Polaris is the first full length horror adventure from independent Finnish studio, Turmoil Games.

I like the isolation.

Here’s how the game ticks. Alpha Polaris plays as third person point and click, with no panning. Right click on an item for Rune to examine or comment about it, and left click to cancel out from that. A left click may pick up an item or perform an action. You are able to double click to fast-exit to the next game screen, and your Enter key will advance dialogues. The spacebar acts as hotspot tool -- which I find a commendable and useful inclusion in any adventure game -- and hitting Esc takes you back to the main menu where you may save your game, load, or quit. The in-game inventory may be accessed by clicking on the bag at the bottom left of the game screen, or by pressing “I” on your keyboard.

In the Options menu you can choose to receive in-game hints from Rune, and thereafter left click on him at any time for a nudge in the general direction of where you need to head next. You are seldom provided with additional clues on how to accomplish any task; therefore for the most part I found this feature less helpful than it could have been.

Rune’s personal thoughts and all item descriptions appear as onscreen text only without accompanying audio. There is full audio when characters are in conversation, and the voice acting is quite acceptable. There is a limitation to the detail and animation in all the characters’ movements and speech. During dialogue they will stand motionless, without expression, occasionally facing in the opposite direction from the person to whom they are speaking. In an effort to compensate for this, an additional hand-drawn image of the character appears onscreen in a close-up with greater detail. Dialogue is not excessive, and concentrates upon the situation of the moment rather than overmuch miscellaneous detail and chat. But by its doing so, I felt that I only really scratched the surface of interaction with Rune’s colleagues, struggling for an understanding of their motives and a fuller sense of their individual personalities.

The scenes are detailed, fluid and interesting, if restricted: you are able to explore the station itself, its surrounding snowy exterior, with the stunning displays of the Northern Lights, and pay a visit to one expedition site. This adds to the overall claustrophobic atmosphere which the game rather successfully manages to engender.

Described as a horror adventure, I did not feel that Alpha Polaris delivered all that it might by way of its tag. There are no sudden scares or heart-thumping moments, although the tension does increase towards the end of the game, and the story unfolds well, introducing a new character partway through to heighten the sense of paranoia within the team.

This game would not be suitable for very young players, or anyone with an aversion to strong language. Alpha Polaris bandies the f-bomb and similar words throughout. There is a possible sex scene through dialogue choice with nudity and static imagery. It is nothing very explicit, but could still be enough to tip your elderly maiden aunt off her chair should she be of a nervous disposition.

I don’t think I need to touch that.

(I’m talking about puzzles now.) There are inventory-combo type conundrums, one frankly bizarre cake bake, and a couple of stumpers involving manipulation of computer programs and station equipment. You will be required to decipher intricate cartouches -- and these I found to be the most challenging puzzles of the game by far. I felt the clues as they were presented were a little imprecise, resulting in much guesswork when it came to typing in suggestions for symbol decoding.

 There are no timed or sound puzzles, no sliders or mazes.

A slippery slope.

I experienced long screen loading times -- occasionally when moving from one area to another, but more often upon initial launch of a saved game.

Unsettling, isn’t it?

Alpha Polaris installed and played on my system without any bugs, glitches or dead ends.

Overall, I would consider Alpha Polaris to be an engaging game, with a number of thoughtful challenges and some rather lovely Aurora Borealis.

Grade: B

I played on:

Windows XP Media Center Edition SP3

Intel[R] CPU T2050 @ 1.60GHz

2.00 GB of RAM

NVIDIA GeForce 7500 LE, 512MB


The game can be downloaded from the Turmoil Games website.

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