Tuesday, February 7, 2012

NeverDead Review

In a game market saturated with sequels and games which follow the exact same formula as titles which proved to be successful, it's rare to find a new experience. NeverDead has jumped onto the scene, trying to be that title which is the standout new experience of 2012. On the surface NeverDead looks like your standard third person shooter, following along the lines of Gears of War among others. It's not until you get around to the fact that you can't die as the main dot point of this game which makes things interesting. Does immortality make this game into one of the great new IP's that we will see this year?


For an unknown title, I launched into it not expecting me to blow me away in the graphics apartment. NeverDead went against my initial hypothesis and has turned out being a beautiful game which has created some stunning environments and characters. I was particularly impressed by the amount of animation going on throughout the course of the game. Battlefields can become hectic as the environment is destructible and explodes just as spectacularly as a downed foe. Explosions are plentiful and destruction of the environment as well as your body will come often as exploding red bottles are littered throughout the game.

For all this destruction, the mess it creates forms a sticky situation for the main character in more ways than one. Moving around some of the closer combat environments once they are littered with rubble becomes a challenge due to the controls which don't allow for smooth movements. An explosion which throws your head metres away from your body can become a real challenge when there are multiple immovable objects blocking the way. Odd camera angles don't help with the process all that much.

Character models are very good for the main characters, as are the voice acting for them. The main character Bryce will convey his negative attitude to everything adequately and his one liners attempt to bring some humour into the game. His partner, Nikki, will often complain about everything. While both are fine, the repetitive tone of the characters becomes annoying after a while and doesn't do anything to advance the storyline as no real chemistry is created between character and character, or even character and the gamer.


Despite how exciting the prospect or being able to dismember yourself and continue fighting may sound, the execution of this process would determine the overall outcome of this game. Initially the game is a heap of fun and the fact that you can be walking around one second and rolling around as a head the next is a true novelty. I played through the first stage thinking that I would have an absolute ball with this game. But then all of a sudden the game progressed, but nothing changed to the overall formula. Soon enough, losing body parts became a hindrance rather than a vital part of the experience.

In all fairness, the depreciating appeal of the key mechanic isn't caused by the mechanic itself. The failure of NeverDead to evolve in both a gameplay and story telling aspect is this titles ultimate downfall. Stages aren't varied enough, there are only a handful of enemies which you encounter the same types far too often and even the boss battles become tiresome. The game leads you in with little backstory to Bryce's immortality except he fought a demon 500 years ago. Why he is a demon hunter and the whole story is disjointed and doesn't provide a satisfying ending.

The controls are also a bit hit and miss. Controlling Bryce works fairly well and he accurately reacts to his current form. You may be able to move around with ease, but then once you lose a leg your mobility is decreased as you hop around on your remaining leg. Regaining your body parts is as simple as body rolling over them, even if this does become a frustrating process if an enemy happens to stand over your body ready to behead you straight away. Shooting uses the two triggers as you dual wield weapons. One cool thing is that while aiming gets disabled, you can still shoot if your arms have been severed from your body. My weapon of choice due to it being severely overpowered in respect to the guns is the sword, which uses an awkward thumbstick system which I would like to be replaced with the conventional button or even a basic thumbstick action.

The game is more of an arcade shooter, with experience points found throughout the maps allowing for upgrades. Only so many 'perks' can be equipped at a time but allows for some customisation of Bryce. Apart from that, this game just follows the same formula or go into a room, fight all the enemies that appear and find a way to move on. Being immortal you don't have to worry about dying for the vast majority of the game. One monster can suck your head into its mouth, but a simple mini game will let you escape and continue on your way. This game suffers from too much repetition and the fact that almost everything you use is at the start of the game. No story and no evolvement from any element of NeverDead has me wanting more than I got.


Man, I badly wanted to like NeverDead. It offers so much promise and uniqueness, something I have been craving from an industry based on repetition. In an attempt to create some new and interesting, the developers have suffered from internal repetition. A poor storyline and game which doesn't really change from start to finish hurts this game more than you can imagine. With a gripping story and characters that we can connect with then the cheap attempts at humour and immortal factor could be great. Instead, this game just leaves me glad that the experience is over instead of having the feeling of excitement when I put the disc into my Xbox. This is a classic example of one fact, you can't make a good game without a story to go with it.

Graphics - 7.5/10
Sound - 5.5/10
Gameplay - 4/10
Overall - 6/10