Kona: Hands on Preview

This Canadian Wilderness adventure game, despite being in very early Beta stages, lacking much in the way of goals and offering but a mere taste of what is to come, offers a variety of mechanics, from atmospheric and sometimes haunting environmental exploration. From shooting wolves with a rifle scavenged from an abandoned lumberjack’s hut, to investigating and slowly uncovering the meaning behind this North Canadian towns apparent abandonment. These mechanics sometimes work well, but at present is packaged in a heavily voice-over narrated, almost novel feeling story line that feels more like it is getting in the way of the overall experience as opposed to enhancing the exploration and scavenging mechanics that I found most interesting.

Kona’s story is very vague, you are investigating some vagrant activity for the town's local big wig, William Hamilton, who as it turns out is nowhere to be found (not within the betas searchable areas anyway). It quickly evolves into an amalgamation of a classic point and click adventure; picking up everything you can and clicking on other things to see if what you have in your inventory is what you need to fix a generator, or open a locked and/or chained gate. Some items can be combined, such as a magnet and thread, which will allow you to grab a key from down a deep hole Macgyver style. Hunting around for these items varies from enjoyable, usually when exploring a newly found house, to laborious when you have to walk and drive around the town in your “Chevloret” pick up (sucked in copyright law!) to find that one object you missed that is critical to open a crate or find magnet for said magnet and thread key fishing device!

In addition to useful trinkets, keys and hammers to repair objects and open new areas, weapons are also abound, useful for defending yourself against the native wolves that roam the forest. These encounters were pretty lacklustre and easy to deal with, however the game promises more challenging encounters in the finished product which will no doubt help boost the players heart rate and excitement levels during the game.

Overall, this is an incredibly early product, missing much of the story and progression elements that will no doubt be in the final build of Kona, instead merely offering a basic flavour of the game allowing you to taste the world still very much in development. Overall I found the game to be an interesting, atmospheric and compelling first glimpse, however there were times that the game did get fairly tedious, mainly owed to the unfinishable and bare bones nature of the beta stage.

Kona is an intriguing product that really doesn’t offer enough content to thoroughly make an appraisal of what the finished product will be. Parabole have plans to release a series of four games, I look forward to seeing more as the game progresses and continues to evolve over time.