NORTHBOUND: A Narrative Adventure Game about a Roadtrip, Memories, Changes and Decisions
Northbound (or Northbound: Long Road Ahead) is a first-person narrative adventure indie game produced by John Koeberle (Johannes Köberle) and Super Balrog (Arno Justus), and published on April 18, 2019, on the indie gaming platform "itch.io". In Northbound, you are a recent graduate who is faced with a lack of direction and purpose in life. In an attempt to find himself again, he decides to reunite his two childhood friends: Jens and Fred, and depart for a roadtrip, towards a lake where they spent good summers together in the past. But during the trip, you will discover that a lot of things change in life, and that some of them are inevitable.
The game was produced as part of Johannes and Arno's university completion paper, being developed over five months until both of them graduate in June. And without a doubt, this is a great job, with beautiful graphics, an engaging soundtrack and a narrative that maybe even says a lot about today. In terms of gameplay, there is no secret; here you just move, observe and interact around you, either with objects or with your friends. The main focus here is on the story and, perhaps, this is where we have a weak point, which is the lack of greater elaboration related to choices, and the consequences of those choices during the game. Here, no matter how hard you try, all choices will lead to the same end. But the good news is that apparently the creators are working on the game, developing new ideas for it.
Without a doubt, it's an excellent game, with a narrative that catches the player and makes the player reflect on life. I can say, in my opinion, that Northbound is one definitive proof that video games have long since ceased to be something considered "childish" or "silly", but that they have evolved to the point that they have become a tool to connect the player with remarkable, deep and reflective stories.
You can check out the Northbound gameplay at this link here, but if you are interested (and I highly suggest you do this), you can download the game from the page below: