Kona does a great job of establishing it's environment. It takes places in the backwoods of Quebec in 1970. It's freezing cold, snowy, white-out conditions and gale force winds are whipping at your face. This is a downright hostile survival situation that will claim any victims who aren't highly prepared for it. This is a game that I would love to explore in VR at some point.
The game is a first-person, detective, survival game which also features some supernatural forces at play. You play as Carl Faubert, a private investigator from Montreal who initially gets called in to investigate a case of vandalism at the General Store. Carl shows up on location and the vandalism case quickly escalates into a murder investigation.
You travel around the town and search houses for clues (documents, journals etc), tools and crafting materials (to help you solve puzzles) and as a means of shelter. Your primary threat is freezing to death, so seeking out shelters and making campfires is your only way to combat that element. You may also have to defend yourself from wolves. This is where you have the option of exploring the game's combat mechanics, which are really clunky and awkward to use. There's no hit markers and you really don't get the sense you're connecting with anything. You're better off just throwing a raw steak at them or firing off a gun shot into the air to scare them. There's also a stress metre that can increase if Carl is dealing with an unpleasant scene, such as having to kill wolves, crashing his car or being exposed to the elements for too long. You decrease your stress metre by smoking cigarettes, taking pain pills or drinking water or alcohol.
The game doesn't really hold your hand when it comes to puzzles, controls or clue hunting. Although the game's plot funnels you down a linear path, how you go about commuting through the level to carry out your investigation is up to you. There's no invasive HUD elements; you're given a map and that's it.
One thing that kind of stood out to me, and it was only via a second play through that I caught it, is that a bit of flavour text briefly brings up the Anglophone vs. Francophone divide that was highly prominent in Quebec during that time. Although it's not nearly as extreme now, it still has relevance in Quebec to this day. I won't dive into that, since it's not really my area of expertise and I'd rather stick to gaming.
Performance wise, the game runs pretty smoothly without crashing on Xbox One. My only gripe is the mid-game loading screens that can last several seconds when you're about to enter a new area of the map. It happened nearly a dozen times through both of my play throughs and it really breaks the immersion for me.
The game's ending us where I really dislike this game; it feels rushed, tacked on and incredibly anti-climatic: There's an exposition dump that says a lot without really say anything, there's an asinine chase sequence that's incredibly slowly paced that comes to an awkward conclusion. Then you just escape and the game ends.
Overall, Kona does plenty of things well enough. Hell, I'd like explore more of the world that they drop us into, but the game's ending is so poorly executed that it meant difference between a "positive" and a "mixed" rating for me. I think I can still recommend the game for a cheaper price.