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?
is the first full length horror adventure from independent Finnish studio,
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
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
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
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?
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.
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.
GameBoomers Review Guidelines