This game has no relation to the film of the same name, or the literature that film was derived from. Rather, the player takes on the role of a refugee from the desert land known as South, seeking asylum in the great city of North. However, the city is very oppressive towards outsiders, and so the refugee must prove their absolute loyalty before finding acceptance. His only comfort is the ability to write letters to his sister back in South about his experiences, and the hope that they will be reunited after he becomes a citizen.
- Allegory: Some of the events can be compared to the treatment of migrant workers and refugees in modern society, albeit exaggerated to the point of an Orwellian dictatorship towards the oppressed.
- Ambiguously Human: The people from the South are depicted as emaciated humanoids, while the North locals are fat, faceless, stone-ish blobs. Despite that, they have a working society, and even have regular humans in various photos.
- Big Brother Is Employing You: The player starts by working in an energy mine that powers the entire oppressive city, which can easily kill him due to the excessive heat and limited safe areas.
- Big Brother Is Watching: There are cameras on streetlights across North that the refugee can stand in front of to have the government take their picture. In the end, his letters are forced to take a North-positive perspective if he wants to continue making contact with the outside world.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The command after the city officially considers you "free" as long as you continue to be completely obedient to its rules is "Press [interact button] to feel irony".
- Children Are Innocent: A police test asks the player to identify which human faces in a room are familiar; the only way to not be labeled a danger is to mark all human children as recognizable and everything else as unfamiliar, despite no children (let alone truly human ones) ever seen in North by the player.
- Dream Weaver: In order to "prove" his homosexuality to doctors, the refugee has to take drugs that help him lucid dream, and then interact with the only other male in his dream world when the doctors sedate him.
- Eye Motifs: North's religion is dedicated towards the symbol of a large eye. The typewriter the player interacts with at the very end to send a letter has a notable moving eye, reflecting how the player will always be watched by the government.
- Framing Device: Most information about how the player character is treated in North, as well as hints on how to progress, are delivered by interacting with objects and sending letters about them to the refugee's sister in South.
- Gayngst: As made absolutely clear when trying to get an official document from doctors, the reason the protagonist had to flee South is because he was persecuted for being in love with Eric, another man.
- Safe Zone Hope Spot: The refugee fled to North in order to make a better life for himself, only to immediately be forced into a ghetto and made to prove his worth before even getting access to an actual immigration office.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: The government intercepted all of the letters the refugee sent to his sister, and force him to censor anything that presents North as anything but a utopia, meaning that the refugee never truly gets the freedom that he came to North for.
- Walking Simulator: Most of the game is about walking through an oppressive environment and interacting with the right things. The only actual "death", in the energy mine or from failing the police test, leads to an immediate rewind to before it occurred.