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Video Game / Kona

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When you disappeared, so did purity.
I would defend purity against the winds, the tides,
against ice and blizzard.

Northern Canada, 1970. William Hamilton, a wealthy industrialist, has called Private Investigator Carl Faubert to his place to have him look into several cases of mysterious vandalism that have taken place on his property. Carl agrees to do the job, and drives for several hours to the client's home.

When he gets there, though, he finds that not only must he solve this case, but a blizzard is happening in the area. This means he's going to have to survive the harsh elements, and wildlife, while he's at it.

Kona is an Atmospheric Survival Adventure Game developed by Parabole. The game was funded on Kickstarter on September 4th, 2014, launched in Steam Early Access on March 10th, 2016 and fully released in March 2017 for PC, Xbox One and PS4, with a Nintendo Switch version following on March 9th, 2018. In June 2018, a VR version of the game was released as well.

A sequel: Kona II: Brume, was released on October 18th, 2023. Taking place immediately after the end of the first game, it follows the continued eerie adventures of Faubert, whose attempt to escape the region is cut short by armed attackers, leading to him taking refuge in an isolated mining town that has been cut off from the outside world by a thick mist known as the Brume.

Kona contains examples of:

  • The '70s: The game is set in October of 1970. Communism and the Quebec anti-Anglo militant liberation movement both play minor roles in the story.
  • Abnormal Ammo: Steak can be found in fridges and is classified as "equipment". It can be used to distract angry wolves without resorting to weapons if you want to avoid guns for a Pacifist run.
  • Actionized Sequel: The second game significantly reduces the inventory management aspects (you no longer have to worry about matches, firestarter kits, drinking, etc.) while also having more combat. That said, the game is still primarily focused on investigation and exploration rather than shooting.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • When reloading a save, your car and (if you have acquired it) snowmobile are teleported near the save point. Useful if you've left either vehicle on the other side of the map.
    • The item deposit is shared between the car and the snowmobile, so you don't need to try and remember where did you put that useful item.
  • The Artifact: An in-game version. Hamilton's mansion is marked on the map from the start of the game as a place to go for the vandalism case. Then you find Hamilton's dead body in the store and start solving a murder. Then the supernatural stuff starts, and by the end of the game, you're leaving town before ever getting close to Hamilton's house. You finally end up exploring the Hamilton mansion and the area around it in the game's sequel.
  • Asshole Victim: All people whose unnaturally frozen corpses you find, as well as Hamilton, were directly implicated in death and secret burial of a random Cree woman what triggered the events of the game. Might or might not apply to Lamothe who buried the corpse, as he has shown genuine remorse and given his personality, he was likely bullied to perform the burial by others. Also, Roy and Blais, who had absolutely nothing to do with the incident, are also found killed by the Wendigo towards the end of the game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Guns, which is pretty unsurprising since the game takes place in 1970s Canada. They can kill wolves in a single hit but that's about the only good thing about their effectiveness. The only thing rarer than the firearms themselves are the bullets needed to use them. The revolver is an especially bad case of this as there are only 3 rounds for it in the entire game, all of which have already been loaded into the chamber when Carl finds it. After spending all three of the shots it's just dead weight taking up space in the player's inventory.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Carl's a normal guy alone in the backwoods of northern Quebec, Canada trying to solve first a vandalism case, then a murder mystery. Surviving the harsh conditions is enough to qualify him for this trope then the issue of the spirit wolves and the Wendigo comes in and he really qualifies.
    • One of the remaining residents heard some weird noises and armed himself with a shotgun. He's the only one who's stuck around and seems to be doing just fine so long as he has his alcohol.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: About 90% of the way through the game, Carl comes across a strange ice wall that prompts a vision when he approaches it. There are four figures that the narrator describes as being hesitant to continue, but eventually walk forward and decide to pass on. It's somewhat implied that Carl, viewing the four memories in ice and completing the puzzles that they answered, had set their spirits free to pass on at all due to Unfinished Business that Carl finished for them.
  • Bland-Name Product: Quite a few of them. Boxes of items use the same color scheme and layout and real-world products with some name differences. Of particular note is Bellogg's Rice Crunchies and Apple Jacques.
  • Boring, but Practical: The humble woodcutting axe. It's a melee weapon that doesn't need any ammo and can kill wolves in just a few hits. Considering how rare enemies are in this game as well as a plentiful amount of healing items if Carl takes the time to explore it can easily carry a player through nearly the entire game all by itself.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Alcoholic beverages are one of the many consumable items Carl can acquire, though the game gives an achievement for going the entire game without drinking any. Brewing up and giving a bottle of particularly strong booze to the only guy left in town also lets the player equip a warm winter jacket to better protect them from the elements.
  • Braving the Blizzard: In addition to solving a mystery, Carl also has to stay alive in a harsh blizzard.
  • Cat Scare: Most of the time if you hear something going on out there, it's a wolf scavenging a bit while your back was turned. Most wolves aren't even aggressive and will have only knocked over a few cups and plates then scamper away when you get within sight of them. Truth in Television; lone wolves avoid humans as much as possible.
  • Collection Sidequest: There's a number of them related to achievements:
    • Ten treasure hunts with handmade maps.
    • Three chess games that are one move away from checkmate.
    • Ten crossbow bolts to find and photograph.
    • Six protective talismans.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The town mechanic is one, sending out signals to find aliens, and even has a homemade space saucer in his garage. There's an achievement for activating it.
  • Dirty Commies: The doctor is one. And he was being blackmailed about it. Given that the game takes place during the Red Scare, Truth in Television.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The narrator speaks in a calm voice the whole time almost like they're reading from a book. It's fitting for the part-noir vibe the story gives off, but this happens even during the stranger things that Carl encounters without getting too excitable. This includes occurrences such as getting sucked into an ice statue's memory, getting attacked by a spirit wolf, and getting the attention of the Wendigo itself.
  • Escape Sequence: The Wendigo cannot be killed by any weapon or item in Carl's inventory, once it shows up he has to immediately flee or die.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Carl won't read a woman's diary unless it's important to his investigation.
  • First-Person Smartass: Carl's pretty snarky to himself.
  • From Bad to Worse: Carl's called in for vandalism, then gets stuck in a freak blizzard, finds his client dead, and most of the town is gone with hints in their homes that something's drastically wrong that isn't just their irritation with Hamilton coming to a head.
  • Guide Dang It!: Most of the talismans can be found by following the wolf trails found out in the wilderness. However, one is in a hole in the ground that's not marked in any way. The only way to locate it is that it's near a sign by the side of the road, but there's absolutely no reason for you to be investigating the area around every road sign.
  • Hero of Another Story: The unnamed Native hunter who hunts the Wendigo to prevent the unnecessary slaughter. Carl find his notes in several places.
  • Hide Your Children: The village's kids were all conveniently out of town when everything went to Hell. One family left to visit their grandparents a day before, and another two had the wife and kids flee just before the blizzard hit while the husbands stayed behind to try and help.
  • Hint System:
    • Enabling the narrator to comment on everything will give you this. If you leave a property without looking at everything - or at least without picking up an important item necessary for progression - the narrator will give a statement to the effect of "Carl felt there was something more to be gained". Leaving with everything you need will say instead something like "Carl felt satisfied with what he learned". There is lesser commentary modes where the narrator will only say the bare minimum for plot progression, or nothing at all.
    • The journal can be used as another if you're going for completion. Within the various sections, a "[?]" can be found for any piece of information that Carl is lacking, and the outline of a Polaroid photo if you need anything for photos, along with the section the photo goes in and by the piece of information it goes with. At no point will either hint tell you exactly what information you're missing, just that you are.
  • Hostile Weather: Heavy snowfall and lack of visibility due to sleet are a regular companion in this game.
  • Hypocrite: Early in the first game, you learn that Hamilton was threatening to expose the Doctor as a Communist collaborator. However, in the second game, it turns out Hamilton himself was working with the Soviets for their scientific knowledge in order to study the meteorite.
  • Implacable Man: The Wendigo is completely immune to any earthly weapons, so all you can do is run away from it. There are achievements for trying to shoot it, though. As well as throwing a steak at it.
  • Infinite Flashlight: Your flashlight (and the lantern you can also find and use later) lasts indefinitely. Justified in that the game takes place over a short enough span of time (seemingly just a few hours) that it's reasonable for the flashlight to last the whole game without going out. The sequel has a flashlight that runs out after several minutes, and has you collecting batteries to keep it charged.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Carl has a certain weight limit he can carry at any one point, and everything has weight. You can put stuff into the back of his truck for storage, but no matter what or how much you put there, you're gonna have to ditch it at certain sections. At minimum, stuff for starting a fire is mandatory just to stave off blizzards, but a few pieces of equipment are also necessary, such as the hammer.
  • It Can Think: At one point, a wolf manages to get into a house in which all the windows and doors are closed, then flees when it spots you, seemingly leaving by the front door (which is closed when you get to it). This seems to imply the wolves can somehow open and close doors. This isn't even one of the supernatural ice wolves, either, just one of the regular wolves.
  • Kill It with Ice: The fate of most of the townspeople, courtesy of the Wendigo.
  • Late to the Party: Carl gets knocked out in a traffic accident at the beginning of the game. By the time he wakes up, it looks like he's the last living soul in town. It turns out the other driver was the guy who inadvertently caused the whole mess.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Kona II brings up the possibility that rather than a Native American curse, the apocalyptic events plaguing the region are the result of an ancient meteorite that Hamilton discovered and was attempting to exploit, resulting in an explosion that saturated the region in extraterrestrial radiation which causes mutations and hallucinations. This accounts for the unusually aggressive wildlife, the Wendigo, and also for the various seemingly supernatural events Carl witnesses, such as the ice wolves, ghostly visions, and one instance in which Carl interrogates an imprisoned Cree maintenance worker/saboteur who later turns out to have been Dead All Along. However, it is possible there is a genuine supernatural element to the events, especially as the ghostly visions and the Cree saboteur "ghost" tell Carl accurate information that Carl himself couldn't possibly have known.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of the game, Carl unfreezes the Wendigo after the Native American hunter already defeated and froze it. Downplayed in that the town was already pretty much wiped out and the Wendigo doesn't seem like it's going to go on a rampage outside the town; it's only a threat to Carl himself, and he does manage to get away. However, in the sequel, the Wendigo returns to wreck havok, and Carl could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he hadn't pulled that bolt out.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Two of the villagers, Roy and Blais, stayed behind to search for their friends instead of escaping with their families. They end up being killed by the Wendigo alongside the four people who were actually involved in the Cree woman's accidental death.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The only "living" things are Carl (the player), the occasional wolf, and a single resident who manages to be alive and still around. Encounters are so few and far enough in-between you're wandering a snow-covered abandoned ghost town in relative silence, leading to any shocks caused by those encounters to hit harder than if there were enemies everywhere.
  • P.O.V. Cam: The game occurs from Carl's perspective.
  • Private Investigator: Carl Faubert.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: You have a limited amount of resources needed to survive in the cold and deal with any physical threats you might come across while exploring the area.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: You can find a revolver relatively early on in the game. It's evidence in a murder investigation, but also handy for fending off angry wolves. Makes sense given the time period as revolvers were still in relatively widespread general usage. However, it only has 3 bullets in it (the other 3 having been used by the murderer during the murder), and you don't find any additional ammo for it anywhere in the game.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Brave turned himself into the Wendigo to avenge his lover who was killed in a hunting accident; however, the killer had already been killed by someone else, so unable to take his vengeance he ends up wiping out the town instead.
  • Sanity Meter: The stress meter. If Carl is in a state of high stress, he won't be able to sprint as far and he isn't as accurate with his weapons. Cigarettes will lower stress at the cost of a hit to health, while drinking does not hurt you but will get less effective if multiple are used in close succession.
  • Savage Wolves:
    • The primary physical threat Carl faces in the game are a number of wolves wandering the area. They can be either avoided or engaged in combat. Later in the game, there are icy wolves that are servants of the Wendigo; unlike regular wolves, these cannot be pacified by throwing them a steak or scared off with flares.
    • Downplayed in the second game; wolves are less aggressive, curiously approaching you instead of charging immediately, and will generally only attack you if you approach them closely like an idiot. The game makes a point of emphasizing that even this level of aggression is unusual for wolves, who usually run away from humans. Conversely, the icy spirit wolves are more numerous and combat with them is generally unavoidable in many cases.
  • Save Point: One of the first things the game establishes is how to make a fire to stave off the cold. Making a fire functions as a save point, auto-saving the game and restoring Carl's heat and stress meters. Active firepits don't go out, so a house can be reentered to save again at any time.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first game consists of a small abandoned village consisting of several small houses/cabins and a general store. The sequel takes place in a large mansion, and the large mining town around it. You'll interact with several living survivors, and there's a bigger emphasis on combat compared to the first game.
  • Sole Survivor: Aside from a single old man who will trade Carl a winter coat for some strong booze every resident in the town has either already fled or been killed by the Wendigo by the time the story starts.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Both Hamilton and the Doctor bear responsibility for the Wendigo's rampage. Hamilton accidentally shot a Cree woman while hunting, then covered up the killing, causing the woman's fiancé to transform into the Wendigo and seek him out for revenge. However, the Doctor murdered Hamilton himself, due to the Cree woman's death reminding him of the unresolved trauma of his own wife's death, which ends up denying the Wendigo of his own revenge and causing him to go on a directionless rampage against every living thing in the area.
    • The sequel indicates that the apocalyptic snowstorm is the result of experiments on an alien meteor being done by Hamilton's company which got out of hand due to the meteor being too dangerous for human science to control. The whole Wendigo thing was just another problem added on top of an already bad situation.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: When confronting the Wendigo, Carl can use his guns and attempt this. Nothing is effective and you can't do any damage, but you can get an achievement for trying the rifle.