• Review: NeverDead

    Posted by Mike Yawney on February 10th, 2012 View Comments

    At what point in a game’s development phase is it too late to go back and fix things? If something takes away from the game’s enjoyment is it worth delaying the release to ensure gameplay is solid? Those are the two questions I continually asked myself as I played through Konami’s latest release NeverDead.

    At the the heart of it NeverDead has serious potential; just consider the premise. The main hero is a demon which can’t be killed. No matter how many times he is hit he refuses to die, he simply loses limb after limb until he’s literally a rolling head. In fact, you can even use your limbs as weapons to kill other demons. In theory it sounds pretty awesome, but the game’s fun factor is crippled by a basic building block of any game. Controls.

    Protagonist Bryce didn’t start out as an immortal. 500 years ago he went up against the demon king Astaroth and was cursed with immortality. Astaroth gouged out one of his own eyes and plunged it into Bryce’s skull, turning him into a demon himself. This grotesque act gave our hero some incredible abilities which make for some truly unique gameplay.

    As I previously mentioned Bryce cannot die. Each time he is hit by an enemy he loses a limb. Bryce can run around with no arms or hop around on a single leg until he picks up his limbs and reattaches them. But there are times when you’ll want to lose your limbs. Bryce can rip off his arms or head and toss them into areas that aren’t easily accessible. He can then summon the rest of his body back and continue on his way.

    As Bryce kills demons he gains experience which can be used to purchase new abilities. You can make him run faster, jump higher or give him explosive limbs to help him destroy the hordes of demons out to get him as he tries to track down Astaroth for a rematch. While there are dozens of upgrades to be purchased most of them are useless as none are required to finish the game.

    Enemies may be plentiful but there is a lack of variety. You will run into the same four or five enemies again and again until the final credits roll. Repetitive to say the least.

    The boss battles on the other hand are quite entertaining and shows the games real potential. The bosses are tough and require some real thought on how to destroy them. They also highlight the missed potential of this title. One boss has you throwing your limbs into his mouth forcing you to fire your weapon inside his stomach. In all my years of gaming I can’t think of another boss encounter like that. Too bad most gamers won’t give this title enough time to actually reach this stage as they will turn it off in frustration long before then.

    Controls are ridiculously sloppy. In order to get your body back together after becoming dismembered you must roll your head over to your limbs one by one. Your head isn’t perfectly round so rolling isn’t exactly easy. Obstacles such as rocks and rubble also stand in the way preventing your head from reaching your limbs. And just when you think you’ve reached your body an enemy swallows your head and it’s game over. Add in a crappy camera and you start to get the idea. This game is a lesson in anger management. I almost threw the controller in frustration a number of times, something I haven’t done since I was a child.

    NeverDead has so much potential which is why it kills me to give it such a low score. Every now and then the fun factor shines through and the experience becomes quite enjoyable, especially some of the later levels on the game. Too bad not many gamers will ever reach them, they will give up long before then. NeverDead could have been a great title, if only it didn’t feel so broken.

    The Good

    Unique gameplay
    Creative boss battles

    The Bad

    Frustrating controls
    No variety in enemies
    Weak story

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