Totem’s Sound

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Now this was a little out of the ordinary.

Here’s a quick blurb about Totem’s Sound:

This is the story of the Norwegian explorer Johan Adrian Jacobsen. From 1881 to 1883 he travelled along the northwestern coasts of the Americas. Commissioned by a support comitee, he purchased and catalogued an immense number of artefacts and objects from local tribes for the German Humboldt Foundation. Totem’s Sound is based on his personal accounts.

Well, almost.

Enjoy a day of Johan’s journey, featuring great outdoor activities such as canoe races, collecting clams, not getting eaten by a giant grizzley and of course fish oil binge drinking. Get in contact with the local tribes, that are struggling to preserve their ways of life and their cultures in a rapidly changing world.

That’s the set up. In practice the game is extremely interesting. It looks fantastic; gorgeous, if simple, pixel art and smooth animations bring the world to life. It’s a game about exploration, and I don’t mean walking from point A to point B or “walking off the beaten track.” This is game about a white man exploring dying lands, dying people and dying traditions.

It could be ham fisted but, instead, Totem’s Sound feels pretty respectful to the subject matter. The game itself plays from an isometric view and has a few simple interactions. You have a couple of items equipped to fight off wildlife and then you have the ability to talk. Not to the monotonous pilgrims who yearn for brightly coloured pillows and rugs, but to the natives who ooze tradition and lore.

In a week that saw Never Alone launch to huge critical success it’s nice to see another game exploring some lost traditions. Totem’s Sound may not be as fully packed and fully produced as Never Alone, but it does a damn fine job. A little more lore in there and I’d be recommending Totem’s Sound unreservedly. You can download Totem’s Sound for free here.