Alpha Polaris – Review

Title   Alpha Polaris
Developer  Turmoil Games
Publisher  Just A Game
Platform  PC
Genre  Point & Click Adventure
Release Date  Out now

Rise and shine campers and don’t forget your booties because it’s COLD out there today (it’s cold out there everyday). That’s because booting up Alpha Polaris transports you to the heart of frozen Greenland for a creepy adventure, where romance, death, ancient myths, beautiful Aurorae and polar bears await.  Alpha Polaris is the first game by Finnish indie developers Turmoil Games and, although it is currently only available as a download from their site, this little indie point and click is a real gem.

You play as 28 year old Norwegian biologist Rune Knudsen who is studying polar bears at Alpha Polaris, a station owned by an American oil company searching for a profit under the ice. Just when the team think they have found something, it turns out that something has actually found them.

It’s third-person perspective all the way in Alpha Polaris, with the controls being the standard point and click fare: space-bar to show onscreen hotspots, ESC to show the menu and double clicking the left mouse button on an exit arrow will let you jump to the relevant screen. Other than that, it is simply left click for activation, while the right is for examination, helpfully illustrated by symbols below the cursor, as is the norm.

The game is played with 3D characters on pixel perfect, beautiful 2.5D backgrounds and the overall effect is very satisfying; everything runs as smoothly as a Mr Whippy ice-cream. The quality of the cinematic sequences is good, though a little on the blurry side, and the frequency and spacing of them is ideal.  While there may not be not much variety of landscape in the arctic, the developers have done incredibly well with what they have to work with and the Aurorae effects alone are gorgeous.  What really makes this game shine though is the wonderful artwork displayed during the dialogue. These hand-drawn portraits really help to immerse the player in the story and allow a better feel for the characters; they truly are a joy to look at and without them this would be a very different game.

As far as puzzles go, there aren’t that many, and the ones there are won’t give you too much trouble, although considering the length of the game the amount seems about right. Most of the time you’ll be presented with a space to type in a word to translate a symbol or make a suggestion, with a few inventory conundrums thrown in for good measure and, as such, you’ll never feel too frustrated or taken out of the story. In fact the only time I had any trouble was when I spent about fifteen minutes trying to get a frozen hatch open by setting fire to it, attempting to ignite various inventory items to melt it and generally swearing at it. It turned out the actual solution was pretty simple and perfectly logical. D’oh!

It isn’t just the scenery and puzzles that keep the player immersed; the background music throughout the game is so subtle that it is barely noticeable, yet it weaves together with the sound effects to create an ambiance that makes you feel like you’re there; a silent witness to the events unfolding.  Not only that, but the music that plays over the end credits is also wonderful and genuinely made me want to watch them all the way to the end.

One point of note, however, was that even the non-American characters have American accents; not that I’m complaining, quite the contrary actually.  Accents in this genre are notoriously dodgy, while the voice acting here is superb and the script is well written. Everyone comes across as natural sounding and the odd bit of swearing here and there gives it a sense of realism and maturity that is most welcome. I mean, get me in those circumstances and you’re damn right I’m going to bloody swear – anyone would.

On the subject of maturity, Alpha Polaris contains something I’ve never yet seen in my point and click career so far… a sex scene. Yep, play your cards right and Rune will see some action that definitely isn’t inventory based.  I just hope he has a condom stashed away in the lining of the knapsack he carries around, because I don’t think the morning after pill is an option when you’re in the middle of the Arctic wasteland, unless you’re clairvoyant and saw the event co… um, approaching.  Regardless, you won’t be relaxing  for long , as you’re soon kicked out of bed and back into action.

Sadly, Alpha Polaris is painfully short at around four hours the first time around, with me able to whittle this down to just three on a second run for my own enjoyment. It’s a real shame; just when things are starting to get really interesting it’s over.  The ending, while good, is one long cinematic cut-scene from the moment you enter the final room to when the credits roll. You don’t have to do anything and you have no control over the outcome. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I was just a little surprised. For the uninitiated, most of the time in this type of game you are confronted with a situation and have to take some kind of action or solve one last puzzle to trigger the ending (or, as is sometimes the case, one of multiple endings).  Here, however, the capable Rune steps up and takes matters in hand himself. Luckily he’s a smart guy, knows exactly what to do and does it fast – in the same situation I would have been in serious trouble.

Despite a creepy atmosphere and chilling story (pun intended), for a supposed Horror, Alpha Polaris is not actually very frightening. There was one tense moment when I was thinking “Shit! Run!” but, other than that, it rated no points on the scare-o-meter. As a fright fan I was a little disappointed by this, but as it stands it’s a perfectly enjoyable thriller, suitable for scaredy-cats and hard-nuts alike.

In spite of these minor flaws Alpha Polaris a game I’d absolutely encourage others to play, whether they are fans of the genre or not. Given its length and easy to medium difficulty I think that it would be perfect for any point and click newbies looking to wet their feet in the arctic snow.  Ultimately, I’m glad I decided to pick up Alpha Polaris, with my only real regret being that it leaves me wishing with all my heart that it could’ve been longer. Regardless, I eagerly await Turmoil Games’ next offering.

Both the full game and the demo can be found here on the official site.


  • Character art during dialogue gives the game greater depth
  • Intriguing story
  • Isolated location is the perfect setting
  • The use of bad language and the surprise inclusion of a sex scene give the game a mature, realistic feel
  • Blew its load too early, I wanted it to last longer
  • No involvement in the ending
  • Advertised as a horror, but not very scary

While being frustratingly short, Alpha Polaris is a brilliant little game, polished to a very high standard and, as such, I'd recommend it to any fan of the genre, and think that it has something to offer the non-point and click gamer too. I just can't help but feel it would have benefitted from a larger cast and more locations, however. With the story stretched out to its full potential it would be a force to be reckoned with, but as it is, it's a great way to spend an evening. So, wrap up warm and let the Aurorae light your way to Alpha Polaris in this beautiful indie title.

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  1. Edward Edward says:

    Sounds like a pretty interesting point and click game! I may have to give this a look-see at some point, especially as it;s not too long :D

    Great job, Tania!

  2. FC360 says:

    Sounds like a interesting game might take a gander at it.

  3. Tania Tania says:

    Be honest, it was the sex scene that hooked you, right? ;)

  4. Edward Edward says:

    Only if it’s tastefully done and he fucks her with an Icicle, yes :P

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