Republished on Wednesday, thirteenth July, 2022: We’re bringing this assessment again from the archives following the announcement of July’s PS Plus Additional, Premium lineup. The unique textual content follows.
It’s been a yr since Spirit of the North first took us on an journey on PlayStation 4, however with the PlayStation 5’s latest launch, Infuse Studio has introduced it again for a second spherical. Set inside Iceland, we discover ourselves taking part in an peculiar Fox, guided by the Guardian of the Northern Lights after the land and skies turn out to be stained by crimson corruption. Drawing closely from Nordic folklore, it brings us a creative expertise that provides a complete visible improve however stays held again by cumbersome controls.
From snowy tundras to mountainside greenery, Spirit of the North pulls you into this intriguing story by way of environmental storytelling, no narrators or dialogue included. It’s a giant world to discover, crammed with murals that depict previous occasions and there’s no mini map to information you. All we get are occasional location prompts from our guardian buddy, who leads us on this journey as we battle again in opposition to the mysterious plague. We are saying battle, however there is no fight right here; this expertise is accomplished through fixing environmental puzzles. Some are simply handled, like matching symbols between a set of statues, nevertheless it will get extra difficult as you advance.
Beginning off with a primary moveset of operating, leaping, and selecting up objects, the Fox regularly unlocks new religious powers, which require spirit vitality to activate. That’s obtained from blue flowers and you may switch this vitality to energy up stone tethers. When powered up, the Fox can launch bursts of vitality to destroy any rooted corruption, channel your religious physique to a different location for a brief period of time, and spirit sprint to land these extra-long jumps. Staffs are additionally mendacity about, alongside the skeletal stays of some long-deceased shaman spirits. Reuniting them with staffs opens new pathways to start with, although it turns into extra of an non-obligatory additional in a while.
The story is cut up into chapters however all you want is a day to finish it, taking a number of hours with out getting misplaced. For probably the most half, Spirit of the North comes collectively effectively, presenting us a refined creative expertise that’ll have you ever hooked, successfully utilizing environmental storytelling to attract you into this world. Gameplay could be sluggish paced at occasions, which shall be admittedly off-putting for some, and there are occasions the place it isn’t clear what’s wanted to advance, however the recreation rewards these with endurance. All of that is backed up by a completely orchestrated soundtrack which actually brings this world to life, although track adjustments aren’t particularly refined.
That stated, it holds a number of flaws that are arduous to disregard and a number of this regards the controls. This isn’t such an issue throughout primary exploration, letting you run throughout giant open fields, however it may well really feel a bit stiff in relation to leaping. Contemplating some platforming segments require larger precision, it turns into simple to make errors and people could be time consuming. Disappointingly, this was additionally a problem inside the PS4 version, so it’s a disgrace that Infuse Studios didn’t spend extra time fixing this.
That stated, the place Spirit of the North actually advantages from the Enhanced Version’s next-gen improve lies inside the visuals, that includes remastered textures/objects and improved lighting for an already lovely recreation. Boosting decision to 4K, it actually brings out the finer particulars of those Icelandic landscapes, operating easily at a stable 60 frames-per-second. Higher but, it additionally features a picture mode to take full benefit of this and there’s additionally unlockable fox skins to swap between, together with two new ones for this remaster.
Infuse Studio has accomplished a incredible job in remastering Spirit of the North’s visuals for PS5, however whereas it appears beautiful, this version neglects the weather that wanted an replace most. Although the controls stay stiff and your aims aren’t all the time clear, anybody keen to look previous this may discover a great expertise on the core. If you happen to’ve been trying to find a brand new journey recreation, Spirit of the North is brief however candy and regardless of these flaws, comes advisable.