NeverDead marries 3rd person shooter, adventure, sword play and puzzle solving into one game. It boasts beautiful graphics especially in the cut scenes and a plethora of destruction physics along with a hefty selection of upgrades and weapons.
DEVELOPERS: Revellion Developments
DIRECTOR: Shinta Nojiri (Policenauts, Metal Gear series)
PLATFORM: PlayStation 3 & Xbox360
GENRE: Action/adventure/3rd person shooter
MODES: Single & Multiplayer (no coop)
RATING: PEGI 18
The game is idiosyncratic to say the least with regard to so many of its aspects (but we’ll delve into that later). Essentially you control a character named, Bryce Boltzmann who works for a government demon hunting organization and has a NPC (Non Playable Character) partner named, Arcadia Maximille. Bryce is your typical badass: scarred, coat wearing, gun-touting, sword-swinging, bad-mouthing, one-liner-saying, immortal with a borderline drinking problem.
– That’s right I said immortal! As the back of the cover reads;
“500 YEARS OLD. IMMORTAL. DEMON HUNTER. NEVERDEAD BROKEN. BATTERED. BURNED. NEVERDEAD DISARMED. DISMEMBERED. DECAPITATED. NEVERDEAD”
It’s this immortality along with the ability to catch fire, store an electric charge and either have limbs torn off you or tear them off yourself that makes for a unique and interesting gameplay experience. I have to say I never get tired of tearing his head off and tossing it into an air duct to solve a puzzle or ripping off his left arm so I can fling it into the mouth of a hungry demon. Yep he’ll swallow the arm and I’ll blow his guts out from the inside with my shotgun. Later on you can even choose to allow your dismembered limbs to explode.
– “Lemme give you a hand” *Rip* *Toss* *Kaboom* “oh look its raining you… and me”.
The cool bit is that often (ok sometimes maybe too often it can become annoying) Bryce will lose more than just one limb in the battle and you’ll end up a head rolling around looking for your parts or building up your instant regenerate meter.
So where’s the danger when playing with an immortal pile of limbs? Well aside from these weird ‘Grandaddies’ that can suck up your head and keep it there for all eternity (if you fail the mini game), there’s your ever so judgemental sidekick, Arcadia.
Arcadia isn’t shy about showing off her cleavage and firm bottom. Well at least the creators weren’t too shameful to show them off as often as they could (thanks for the eye candy). Basically through most of the game, you’ll be escorting either her or a number of other NPC’s throughout your battles and be tasked with keeping them alive. This may not be a very original replacement of the health bar but it works, Arcadia can actually shoot even on the hard difficulty and there are enough levels that have you kicking butt all by your lonesome.
The game switches between action, puzzle-solving and cinematic often enough and doesn’t make you wait too long before the next boss battle. Somehow though these boss battles don’t really stick out all that much and merely feel like a small change from the regular action sequences that become all too repetitive too soon. But never fear, if the action gets too much, there’s usually a few pillars or statues etc. you can pummel and have crash down on your foes.
The dismembered limbs approach is really a fresh take on the existing genre and blends so well into the gameplay despite a somewhat clunky control system. Personally I found myself using the sword more than my guns and often forgot about the melee button. Anyone else notice that the sword blocking was about as affective as using an ear-bud to unblock a toilet? – you just know you’re going to give up an arm or more.
Here’s where the game really admits to not taking itself too seriously (which does at times make you laugh off its faults). You get to see Bryce (circa 500 years ago, yet still armed with guns – what!?) and speaking like a pompous night of old. The story unfolds and you meet his arch nemesis, Astaroth the demon king who killed Bryce’s wife and cursed him with immortality. Not really a great curse but then again I suppose he lost his wifey. Astaroth is also responsible for the demon invasion of the present day city that you’re tasked to stop.
NeverDead has been criticised for poor execution, clunky controls and almost unforgivable repetitive action sequences. These are all true about the game but nevertheless you can’t argue with the unique approach, outrageously fun moments, physics and graphics. It may not be on the top of your list but if you’re a real gamer and appreciate fresh thinking, I’d say get behind this title that’s soaked in potential. Also check out the new dlc and expansion packs that have been released according to the official site.
I’d love to see a far more finished sequel from the developers. Until then, I’ll keep trying to find some online games as thus far I’ve not come across any to try out the multiplayer.