Limbs to the slaughter!
Can you imagine being a 500+ year old immortal man, with your only problem being how many limbs you still have in place? Seems crazy, right? That’s exactly why the folks over at Rebellion have created a game based around that very concept. However, not being able to die in a game, can it really be much fun? Read on to find out.
Developer: Rebellion Developments
NeverDead’s story revolves around a man going by the name of Bryce Boltzmann. He has been “cursed” with immortality and is seeking out the creature responsible, so he can dish out some well deserved revenge. Throughout the game, you’ll encounter flashbacks that show you what Bryce was like before being cursed, and how he tried to defeat the creature Astaroth accompanied by his wife, who eventually dies. Years later, 500 to be precise, he is a mere image of what he used to be, turning into an alcoholic still trying come to terms of what happened whilst dreaming of sweet revenge.
To keep himself from going insane, he now spends his spare time hunting down demons and earning some money for his good work. He is guided by private investigator Arcadia, who kindly joins him on his demon slaying missions. Without going into spoiler territory, Bryce’s determination to get revenge for his wife’s death and unfolding relationship with Arcadia makes NeverDead a tale that will surprisingly grip you from start to finish.
Whilst the graphics aren’t anything amazing, they certainly compliment the style of the game very well. Watching one of the many CGI cutscenes will have you grinning from ear to war, making NeverDead that much more visually appealing. Cutscenes aside, the in-game graphics also show off the game very well. The game includes several sections where you’ll be walking and all of a sudden the walls will blast open with fire and enemies wanting to disarm you (literally).
Then you have the enemies, strange creatures that could only come from the creative mind of a Japanese developer imagination, and even end up featuring in a Final Fantasy title. Taking into account the game’s premise, it’s safe to say, they certainly have their place in the world of NeverDead. Take the ‘puppy’, for instance. Going by the names, you might think the enemy would resemble a cute little poodle, itching to become your best friend? Well, you couldn’t be any more incorrect. The puppy is a vicious little creature, filled with the desire to rip your head off. Watching enemies chew off your limbs manages to be incredibly amusing and visually impressive at the same time.
NeverDead’s gripping story is backed up by some very good voice acting, which ends up giving more weight to the events as they unfold before your eyes. Hearing Bryce and Arcadia going at each other with flirty and somewhat funny lines will almost certainly bring a smile or two to your face. Sound effects are also very well implemented, keeping in line with the crazy nature of the game. The music isn’t the best though, mostly consisting of pumping rock tunes to accompany the on-screen mayhem. However, the soothing music that plays when you enter a lift shortly after taking down a horde of enemies is quite amusing, ironic even.
Being a game that sees you playing as immortal character might seem like a waste of your time, but it is anything but. You can still die, in two distinct ways in fact. The first is by way of a certain enemy that sucks your loose head into its stomach, leaving you destined to live inside it for an eternity. You can get you head out of the creature by pressing the A button at the right time, but if you miss the press by a large amount you will be returned the last checkpoint. The second way you can fail is by not saving Arcadia in time. Occasionally, she will scream for your help after being taken down by an enemy, which leave you with a limited amount time to revive her before she dies. Whilst she is certainly useful, especially during battles, her presence ends up being more of a hindrance than anything else.
During one of NeverDead’s many battles, you will find yourself equipped with two forms of attack. You can either shoot your way through with the weapons at your disposal, or slice and dice enemies with the butterfly blade. Trying to complete the game with just one of these will more than likely end in frustration, as there are more than a few times where both forms of attack are advantageous. With fast moving or flying enemies, you will find yourself using your weapons, with the others you will most probably resort to the blade. With the blade equipped you will be able to perform quite a few attacks, but as all of them are initiated with the left stick, you might get a little bored going through the same motion over and over again.
Staying on the topic of attacking, the enemy type that you will find most annoying is most certainly the Womb (yes, the names are somewhat amusing). Not only do they take quite a bit of time to take down, they keep popping out different foes until you destroy it. To add to that certain doors and passages will be blocked until you have defeated all the enemies in the immediate area. To say NeverDead doesn’t accommodate gamers that just like to run through as quick as they can would be a bit of an understatement!
Strangely enough, as you progress through the game, you will find that keeping yourself intact is not always the best form of attack as you will. Let’s just say you will need to use your arm (with gun) in more ways than one. Whilst it is very funny seeing just your head roll around on the floor, you will find pointers that direct you to other body parts, which you can combat roll into and get back together again. You can also wait until the eye shaped indicator has filled up, because when it has done so, you are able to completely regenerate by a simple click of the left stick.
Whilst losing limbs during battle can be frustrating, on other occasions it is very much a necessity. There are puzzles in the game that require you to throw your head into little gaps, so you can get through to the other side, and then piece yourself together again. The puzzles can be a little too easy, leaving you wanting brain teasers with a little more challenge and creativity.
In terms of levelling up, you gather XP via various different means, including collecting little red orbs, which can then be used to purchase upgrades. For instance, you can upgrade your gun or blade so it deals more damage or simply purchase the ability to jump a little higher. The most helpful ability, without a doubt, is ‘Sixth Sense’. This ability slows down the when it senses you’re in danger. Not only is it extremely helpful, but it looks great too, almost like something out of The Matrix movies.
With a story that will grip you from start to finish and interesting multiplayer modes to boot, there is plenty of content in NeverDead to keep you occupied for a while. There are three difficulties in which you can test your demon slaying skills on various enemies, including bosses (sometimes two) that are certain to keep you on your toes.
Whilst having your head, legs and arms chewed off countless times certainly sounds crazy, it actually makes for a very good game. Rebellion has managed to come up with a fantastic story that when coupled with the over-the-top gameplay will leave you wanting more. Much like Bryce himself, this is one game that is very much…NeverDead.