Spirit of the North was a game I left on my Steam wishlist for a long time. It looked beautiful and artistic like a labor of love, and that feeling of passion in it is what drew my eye.

With recent Steam sales, I finally bit the bullet and bought it. What I discovered when I first played it will shock you…but not really. I just wanted to try that line.

However, in this Spirit of the North review, I’ll tell you what I actually did find out about the game and how I felt about it.

Intro to Spirit of the North

If Spirit of the North caught your eye, too, you’re probably wondering what it is and what it’s about. I found this game a little bit harder to define. It’s not very obviously one genre or another.

I settled on adventure for the category after searching online for how other people categorized it. Given the relaxed atmosphere of the game, though, adventure also doesn’t feel like a perfect fit.

Anyway, in Spirit of the North, you step into the shoes – or paws, I suppose – of a fox in a mountainous region based off of Iceland. You spot a blue, ghostly fox cavorting in the snow that you start to follow. As you follow this spirit fox, you discover the ruins of a collapsed civilization and evidence of a bloody plague that likely caused that downfall.

Your mission? Put the spirits of the people scattered throughout these ruins to rest and cleanse the plague from the land. Sounds a little complicated for a fox, but you’d be surprised at what your fuzzy little character can do with the help of their spirit partner.

Spirit of the North Review


The story for Spirit of the North is pretty simple. You’re a fox, led by a spirit fox, searching for a way to purify the land from the plague that destroyed its people.

There aren’t really any complicated twists or turns. There aren’t any betrayals, the world isn’t particularly deep, and you never even the learn the names of the various ruined cities you stumble upon.

In fact, there isn’t even any dialogue. This story is conveyed to you entirely through pictures and gestures, such as the mural on the wall in the above screenshot.

Some people may find the story a little too simplistic. If you’re looking for something complex that will titillate your mind, Spirit of the North isn’t it. I didn’t mind, though – sometimes, simplicity is the best way to go. It gives you fewer loose ends to tie up and decreases the risk of annoying plot holes.


Spirit of the North’s gameplay is one aspect I think most people will feel underwhelmed by. Like the story, the gameplay is incredibly simple.

You can walk around, jump, and use a small arsenal of abilities to solve puzzles. Examples of the abilities you can use include an extra-loud bark that can clear away large swathes of the plague, a spirit form that allows you to walk through obstacles, and a forward-propelling dash.

Many of the aspects people look for in games, such as character customization, choice, or combat, are all missing from Spirit of the North. Because of this, I think most people would find this game bare bones and boring.

Furthermore, the puzzles aren’t particularly challenging. You won’t be frustrated by any aspect of the game, and progression is easy. As if that weren’t enough, the fox also has an ultra-large hitbox, so you can weirdly float by edges if you’re close.

Despite its simplicity and flaws, though, I don’t think the gameplay is necessarily bad. If you’re looking for something to relax to, it’s an excellent option. Put this on when you need something to clear your mind and calm you down, then just focus on exploring the beautiful surroundings.

It’s basically just an amazingly beautiful walking simulator, and as I said in my Transient review, I really don’t have a problem with that.


While it probably wouldn’t win any awards, I think the background music in Spirit of the North is absolutely beautiful. It’s filled with piano and violin, and it’s perfect for relaxing. In fact, I loved the music so much, I added it to a playlist of non-disruptive music I listen to whenever I’m working.

My only wish is that the soundtrack were longer. Because it’s an exploration-based game, you spend a lot of time in the same areas, searching every nook and cranny for collectible monk staffs. Since you’ll spend a lot of time in each area, you hear the background music loop more than I’d like.

But at almost an hour in length, the soundtrack is kind of the typical length for a relatively short indie game. My gripe about it being longer is an inconsequential nitpick.


Although you could count the monks’ spirits you encounter along the way as characters, I won’t. You don’t really interact with them all that much until the final scenes of the game…and even then, you don’t spend a lot of time with them.

So, monks aside, there are only two significant characters in Spirit of the North: the red fox and the spirit fox. Both are in my screenshot above.

Like everything else in the game, these characters are frankly simple. They don’t have ulterior motives, detailed backgrounds, or numerous personality quirks.

They’re just foxes. They have all the personality traits that you might associate with the adorable animals with maybe a slight edge of intelligence. Like with any other cute animal, you’ll likely sympathize and root for the foxes along their journey to rid the land of the plague.

Will you remember them both years after playing? Probably not, but I think they’re still perfectly serviceable as protagonists.


The graphics and settings in Spirit of the North are easily the best parts of the game. I’m sure someone out there would look at the scene pictured above and find it unremarkable, but I thought much of the game was absolutely exquisite. I often found myself stopping to admire the view, just like I did in the screenshot above.

One visual nitpick I have is that the fox’s fur blowing in the wind looks a little weird. It looks almost pixelated, and the way it shifts almost makes it looks like the fox is alternating between a smile and a frown as the fur moves up and down.

The fox’s eyes are also a little lifeless-looking. I guess that’s normal – a natural fox won’t have eyes as expressive as a person’s – but since we’re supposed to step into the role of this fox, I wish it was just a bit more emotional.

Is Spirit of the North Worth Playing?

I looked online to see what other reviewers had to say, and I was kind of surprised to see that most professional reviewers seem to have given this game a bad score. Compared to the overwhelmingly positive user reviews on Steam, this is kind of shocking.

This is why I try not to look at other people’s reviews when I do my own. I don’t want to be influenced by them.

Anyway, my opinion differs from other reviewers…sort of. I think you need to be in a particular mood to play Spirit of the North. By that, I mean you need to be in the mood to play a relaxing, laid-back game with basic gameplay.

But if you don’t mind a pared-down walking simulator experience, I absolutely recommend this game. Spirit of the North feels like a labor of love to me. The settings are gorgeous, the story is heartwarming, and the soundtrack is stunning. If it goes on sale, grab this one.

Wrap Up

It might be a controversial opinion, but I think walking simulator-style games can still be a blast. If they have beautiful environments to admire and stories that pack an emotional punch, then they can be a nice escape when you’re stuck at home.

This is how I felt about Spirit of the North. A number of factors combined to make a real escape for me. There were points where I felt joyous, and parts where I felt my throat literally ache on the verge of tears.

In fact, I ended up liking this game so much that I still have it installed on my PC. I was considering playing through it again to see if I could get all the collectibles I missed.

Have you played Spirit of the North? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

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