Alpha Polaris is a point & click adventure game from the Finnish studio Turmoil Games, their first, and unfortunately only game. From what I remember reading about them, they had no idea of the work they took on when creating this game. They thought it was going to be a relativity easy thing, but as it turned out making games is a tough job. This regrettably lead to Turmoil Games disbanding (from what I know!), and while Alpha Polaris is a fine piece of entertainment it does fall apart a bit at the end, as in it comes a bit fast. Even so, I find it an awesome tale, and as it is known, adventure games live or die depending on the setting and story.
Alpha Polaris got a classic feel of isolation, horror, and mystery with a touch of Lovecraft – in the company of a thick atmosphere you can only get from secluded research stations located far away from civilization. It’s a great setting, and will never get overplayed in my book. You play as Rune Knudsen, a biologist from Norway working on the research station Alpha Polaris in Greenland. By pure chance, your team makes a somewhat unexpected discovery on the ice, an unsettling discovery that will have gruesome consequences for the team. I will not tell what, at risk of spoiling anything, but from here on out the team will suffer from nightmares, and paranoia, increasingly making the station a place of terror.
The graphics are okay, but I personally would have preferred classic pixel art considering the genre. Stuff has a nice clear realistic touch to them, though, but backgrounds can look a bit flat at times. The icy cold of Greenland and its vast stretches of snowy landscape does come through via the visuals – pressing home that feeling of desolation.
Gameplay, well, it’s a point & click game, so there isn’t much too much to say here, except to commentate on the problem-solving aspect. The game got some nice puzzles, like for example the one involving the parchment, and most stuff can be figured out by using the old logic box upstairs. Getting stuck somewhere on the way is a classic part of adventure gaming, so it’s pretty likely there will be a puzzle or two that will put a hamper on the pacing. It’s just something, I at least, have come to expect when I play games of this genre. A quick note on the music and sound – it’s nothing out of the ordinary special, but the music is suitable sinister, drone-like, increasing the tension when it’s time for spookiness.
Alpha Polaris used to be a game you had to buy to play, but I recently discovered that it’s actually free on Steam. I, of course, highly recommend this game, and with it now being free there is no excuse not to play it! I personally own the DVD-case release, but sadly to say, there is nothing special in it, not even a manual which kinda sucks. So there is no real difference in ownership, digital or not.
Thanks for reading.