KONA is an eerie survival-adventure set in snowy 1970s Canada.
It’s not just the weather that gives private detective Carl Fauberet the chills when a mysterious case brings him to a remote area called Atamipek Lake, in the freezing North of French Canada. Investigating reports of vandalism at the house of a wealthy industrialist, he quickly realises there is more to this case than he could have possibly imagined, and over the course of the story he finds himself pulled into a series of unexplained and creepy goings on in the abandoned town.
KONA sees the player exploring the snowy region, getting to grips with the freezing conditions, and uncovering the town’s secrets during the progression of a narrated story in which the tension is continuously ratcheted up. The town is deserted, although it does have some fearsome animal inhabitants such as wolves. This is the first chapter of a planned quartet of games in the same story arc.
The stunningly realised setting of KONA is an original and appropriate one for a horror game, with rural 1970s Quebec coming across as an isolated and inhospitable place even for the native peoples. The creepy atmosphere is helped by the atmospheric audio (with music provided by Cure Label, a Quebecois folk band) as well as a big helping of local folklore and history weaved into the story and visuals.
KONA is produced by 6-year-old studio Parabole who are, as you may have guessed by now, based in Quebec themselves. They were awarded the ‘Startup of the year’ accolade in 2013 by Quebec’s chamber of commerce. KONA was their first commercial video game, with previous output being mainly video-gamed inspired marketing projects.
The PC version of KONA released on early access in 2015 and has been extremely well-received on Steam. Rock, Paper, Shotgun called it “Witty, spooky … and intriguing”, and gamers have praised its cinematic visuals and atmosphere, as well as its well-constructed story, although some have criticised it for being too short. If you’re interested in this type of game, then be sure to check out some of the other horror games we’ve covered previously.