As we said in our original review, Spirit of the North is a gorgeous looking game, offering a fantastical version of Iceland, steeped in mystery. This PS5 remaster ups the visually impressive landscapes and vistas, tweaking and fine-tuning what was already an impressive looking game so that it really is a feast for the eyes. While Spirit of the North really is something to look at, it fails to make any other substantial changes to a game that isn’t really that old to begin with.
Straight out the gate, it is hard to understate how impressive Spirit of the North is to look at. Playing as a red fox, the initial introduction is a masterclass in minimalism. As a fox, there is no speech, or obtrusive text boxes telling you where to go or what to do. Instead, Spirit of the North prefers to show rather than tell, and the fact that it is a beautiful game to look at only helps. Snow flurries over white peaks; ice glistens as it reflects the light. Most impressive to me was the way in which the fox bristles, with its fur prickling and blowing in the breeze.
Individually, none of these aspects are anything out of the ordinary, but Spirit of the North is definitely a sum of its parts. When combined, these features truly do create an immersive and atmospheric world, pulling you in and making you actively want to explore. This is only pushed further with the graphical prowess of the PS5, and the touch up that this year-old game has had really does shine in the remaster.
As it is, the gameplay remains the same. Trekking across the landscape, making your way from one stone monolith to the next, Spirit of the North does a solid job of drip-feeding new gameplay elements and mechanics, all of which are used and utilised to solve a variety of environmental puzzles. If you played the original release, you won’t find many changes in terms of what has been done here, and even more disappointingly I found that the DualSense was criminally underused.
To be fair to Spirit of the North, I had just come straight from playing the impressive AstroBot, which really shows off what the DualSense is capable of, so seeing it so underused here, it really did feel like a missed opportunity. While the vibration function is used, it is only lightly – so much so that during the initial 30 minutes I did wonder if I had maybe turned it off by accident. When Spirit of the North does make use of the range of features that the DualSense offers, it is more noticeable as a result – not because it is being used well, but purely because it was being used at all.
As a quick and easy upgrade, Spirit of the North focuses solely on the graphical advantages offered by the PS5 – upscaling landscapes, lighting and textures. For new players looking for a gorgeous environmental puzzler, Spirit of the North is still a fantastic entry in the genre and one that tells a satisfying tale without being in your face about it. Returning players may be a little underwhelmed at what Spirit of the North Enhanced Edition offers, particularly as it is only just over a year old. If you missed it last year it is certainly worth a look, but if you caught it the first time round and are not a die-hard fan, it might be worth putting your money down on something else.
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