Every hometown has its own tall tales. Such tales makes every community unique, interesting and historically significant. When these tales are translated into video games, gamers will get to know better about a hometown’s culture. Kona is one of the latest mystery game that will let players dive into Canada’s rural culture.
Kona was produced by an independent software development company called Parabole. Based in Qubec, Canada, this young company was founded in 2012 and they have been using videogame technologies not only for entertainment but also for advertising, government agencies and even educational institutions. They are developing “interactive experiences” for their clients on applications, mobile platforms and computers. In 2013, Parabole was awarded by the Quebec Chamber of Commerce with “Startup of the Year.”
The game takes place in the rural region of Northern Canada on October 1970s. An extreme weather event happened at Atamipek Lake where it has been continuously ravaged by a blizzard. Players assume the role of war veteran and private detective Carl Faubert. He is hired by rich industrialist William J. Hamilton. Hamilton decided to hire Carl when several incidents of vandalism occurred on his hunting manor and he can’t identify the perpetrators. The vandalism could have been related to Hamilton’s opening of his copper mine and the native Cree people were against it. They believe that the mining operation is desecrating their sacred lands. When Carl arrived at the village, eerie happenings, mysterious craze and surreal events occurred. Trapped in the freezing blizzard, players must help Carl survive from the harsh elements while uncovering the surreal and mysterious events that have befallen on the town.
In Kona, players have to traverse the harsh weather conditions of Canada by riding their truck or trekking on foot. A third person voice narrates all of the player’s current activities and discovered clues, as well as comment in black humor and give sarcastic remarks with the obvious. Players can pick up key items and solve puzzles by eventually using them. Items can also be deposited at their vehicle if their inventory is full. As a private investigator, players have to gather evidence and utilize tools such as camera, flashlight and other found materials. Players can light up campfires, stoves and ovens to keep themselves warm. Pieces of evidence and progresses are recorded in the journal so that players can track back what they have unveiled. New areas on the map are revealed as players discover evidence or follow footprints from the wolves. There are some evidence that players can interact with and receive supernatural visions.
Other than solving puzzles, players have to manage Carl’s injuries, stress and warmth. Wild animals can be fended off with handgun and rifle. When Carl is under stress due to seeing horrid corpses or experiencing intense temperature, he moves slower and his aim has lower accuracy. There are matches,
fire starters and logs scattered in the game for creating heat source. The game comes with multiple save slots for eager online completionist and cautious players. As players dig down to the villagers’ secrets, they will get to know what is happening in the seemingly quiet town.
Instead of depending on cheap jump scares and supernatural elements, Kona focuses more on story-driven narrative and solving puzzles like building materials, opening locks and accessing new areas. Conspiracies are introduced to players, ranging from marital problems to company sabotage, alien abductions and even folk legends.
Players are forced to survive in the harsh environment by themselves while immersing in a dark atmosphere and heavy ambiance. The supernatural part of Kona is treated as an integral part of the game naturally instead of being feared exotically.
One of the game’s positive aspects is that it reflects the developer’s true passion for this game and the reflection of the local culture in Canada during the time. Canadian gamer Sips from the Yogscast praised that Kona has incorporated Canadian culture, French names, written and spoken French language, logging industry, Communism scare and, wooden shacks and home architecture. As stated by Parabole, the game’s music featured the composition of Quebec folk band Cur Label.