Recently there has been a trend of standardized games. While this can be great; this also limits the uniqueness of some titles. NeverDead however, doesn’t seem to care and offers you a unique experience. Here you get to play as a quasi-zombie who is looking for more than just revenge. With so many cookie cutter games out there, does NeverDead stand out or should it have NeverLived? Find out in this HOT or NOT!
NeverDead is a combat heavy game which allows you to use a sword, your body and even guns to kill pesky demons. However, you can also use the environment to kill them. This can be achieved by making something fall on them, breaking through a wall or even make an object explode. Beyond this, you’re also free to destroy just about everything in your path. Sure it’s not the most vital feature, but it does make the combat pop.
There is a surprisingly high amount of puzzles in NeverDead. Most of the puzzles involve doing something that would kill you in the process. This might include setting yourself on fire, touching high voltage, blowing up your limbs and even ripping your head off. Sadly, a lot of the puzzles become cookie cutter later on and because of this, they can get feel very tedious. Despite that, the unique take is welcomed.
Unlike other games, NeverDead lacks a formal health system. This virtually kills any difficulty as only three things can cause a game over and include falling over the edge (not 100% death mind you), having your partner die or getting eaten. Additionally, being eaten only forces you to do a quicktime event. Failure results in death, while winning results in its death. However, getting to the headless state is where the problems come into play.
Despite Bryce’s power, the life system makes you wonder how exactly he’s held together. After playing through this game, I would believe bandaids/scotch tape if someone told me. It seems like almost everything causes you to lose a limb(s). This could include a turret enemy blowing your limbs off with a bullet or two, getting bit and in some cases, a simple shockwave. Even this wouldn’t be so bad if the game wasn’t so annoying.
Most enemies come from a demonic spawner (it shoots out enemies till it dies), so these things are taken care of, killing any enemy is pretty much futile. Now killing them in it of its self is pretty hard. The best method seems to be throwing your arm at it and then detonating it. This will leave you without an arm, which makes you automatically weaker (can’t block with the sword, only aim one gun, etc). Additionally in the process of killing it, many enemies will rush you. If you’re lucky, you shouldn’t have an issue killing it, but you might lose some limbs in the process.
Now each enemy has a fairly cheap method of dealing with you. Some enemies like the dogs are wildly inconsitent. I’ve had one hit remove three limbs and another hit simply push me down. Regardless of how you deal with them, it’s likely you will lose a limb. As you progress, the enemies get far cheaper. This gets to a point where walking rocket shooting things CAN and WILL blow all your limbs off in a hit or killing a dog causes an explosion taking your limbs off.
Losing a limb is the fast track to annoyance. If you’re missing an arm, there’s certain tasks you can’t perform. As I mentioned earlier, you can’t block, you can’t aim the gun its holding (can shoot under certain conditions), sword seems to move slower and a few more things. Your mission now becomes saving the arm by rolling over it before it becomes food or making do with your one arm till you can regenerate. However, losing the other arm will result in you being unable to attack and transversely similar problems occur with the legs. Usually if you lose the right limb at the wrong time, you can expect to simply be a head.
Playing as a head is extremely annoying. You can roll or spinball (think Sonic), although your only objective is to obtain your body. This can be accomplished in one of two ways. The first is by grabbing any limbs, then attaching yourself to your body. The other requires you to regenerate your body, which is based off a number of elements like how many limbs you have, potions, although in most cases it will be decided by a meter. Additionally, you must now dodge a special enemy. They go around eating your limbs, but mostly work towards eating your head. If you suffer this fate, you must win a quicktime event. Expect a lot of this if you’re not good at the combat system.
NeverDead tried a lot of things, but combat is among the failures. You can choose to use a gun or a sword to vanquish demons. Now the gun combat works fine with only a few annoyances. One of them is if you lose an arm holding your only shotgun, then you’re unable to use the shotgun till you get the arm back or regenerate. This can be bothersome as certain weapons are more helpful in a given situation. To put it another way, you’re basically useless without getting that gun back.
The other weapon is a sword and will most likely be your main weapon. You swing your blade by moving the right thumbstick. While this is an interesting idea, you should know from reading about the limb system that it will cause annoyances. On higher difficulties, the blade is practically useless as you randomly move the thumbstick for attacks. To make matters worse, many enemies like to explode blowing your limbs off and there are so many explosive barrels that you might randomly hit one in your haste resulting in just becoming a head. Finally, neither system really has depth, so its a make the most of what you got situation.
At the start, NeverDead appears to have a pretty interesting story, but as you learn more, it’s just too obvious. One of the first scenes deals with Bryce fighting a demon 500 years ago with another woman. Back then, he appeared to be noble with a positive demeanor, although now he’s a cynical drunkard. If you can’t tell from these two sentences, obviously something happened in his past. The game is filled with these contextual clues that are glaringly obvious, so when you hit a “twist” you’re hardly startled. Ultimately it makes the story feel tacked on and an afterthought at best.
It’s always great to see a game try new things, but there also needs to be some polish. With the cumbersome combat, annoying health and forgettable story, it’s hard to speak highly of NeverDead. Sure the game has charm, but it’s enough to make it less annoying. The game almost feels rushed which is disappointing as it could be good, but it’s simply not. Unless it’s your dream to run around as a zombie, I strongly suggest avoiding this title.[Editor's Note: NeverDead was reviewed on the Playstation 3 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.] NeverDead Review,