Taking on the role of private investigator, Carl Faubert, Kona has you step into a frozen village in 1970’s Norther Canada. Completely blanketed by snow, the people are gone and there are now only hints to their whereabouts dotted around the frigid woodland. Time to discover the mysteries that await.
Uncover the mystery
You are supposedly working a simple case for wealthy land owner W. Hamilton, but the job quickly starts to seem harder as you arrive on the outskirts of the snow covered village. The service station you first pull up to is deserted and seemingly ravaged by… something.
None the less, you have to fill up your pickup’s tank with gas, so you begin to explore the station. You must find and start the generator, directing power to the right areas – in this case the pumps - to complete your tasks and continue on. It is a simple task, but it perfectly establishes the Kona's first-person adventure mechanics.
Leaving behind the warmth of civilization, you quickly come upon a dead-end where the road has collapsed into Atamipek Lake. A car is stranded here. Following footsteps from the vehicle into the chilling tundra you find your first clue into what has happened to the missing people of the town, as four ghostly figures stand before a wall of ice.
This is just the beginning of this open-world survival horror. Moving through the white landscape Carl must survive the harsh conditions, uncover the events that surrounded the town and its people, and avoid whatever hunted them.
Explore this icy world
Throughout these opening scenes, one stand out element of Kona is Carl’s constant inner monologue. Your hero’s internal musings change with the situation, giving everything flavor. Not only does this help you solve the various challenges and puzzles you face, but also gives context to the 1970 setting.
These thoughts also provide feedback while you wander the world. You had better pay attention when Carl complains about the cold, because that indicates his temperature is dropping. When this happens you must find shelter or use collected items to build a fire.
This is just one element of how Kona builds its narrative. Wandering the village you encounter the inhabitants’ empty houses, many of them in a state of disarray. Here Carl is keen to layout his interpretation of what happened leading up to the abandonment. Everything around you tells different parts of the story as you discover a child’s drawings of a monster in the trees, reports of odd behavior, links to the native Cree inhabitants, and people frozen in bizarre blocks of ice.
Investigating the last of these gives you short flashbacks into the end of their lives, further fleshing out the tale of this frozen adventure and offering further hints to the mystery.
Currently Kona is in development. In this beta build some key areas and elements are missing. The few hours of gameplay it offers are enjoyable, but it feels like it is just starting to build momentum as it draws to a close. This is certainly one to keep an eye on for both fans of narrative adventures and open-world survival games – two genres that rarely sit happily together.