It’s time for “Horror Hoedown Showdown!” Today’s horror treat is a review of NeverDead. On the surface, NeverDead looks interesting; what game has an immortal protagonist? Think about that for a moment: you CAN’T die! However, while the premise seems interesting, all the appeal disappears once you start the game.
You play as Bryce Boltzmann, a wisecracking demon hunter who was cursed with immortality five centuries ago by Astaroth after he witnessed the brutal murder of his wife at the hands of the aforementioned demon king. In modern times, he’s become a bitter, disheveled alcoholic who hunts for revenge and money. His partner is Arcadia Maximille, a cold and methodical girl with daddy issues. Here’s the thing though: you never connect to either character. Bryce is a brooding malcontent who offers little insight to his past. Arcadia’s looks grab the spotlight moar than her personality, which is a big red flag.
If anything, the gameplay should be the saving grace of this game right? Wrong! NeverDead is a standard hack ‘n’ slash game…but with extremely awkward controls. You can use both guns and a sword, but switching between the two is hardly smooth. While mixing and matching guns (since you wield one in each hand) is interesting, using your sword is a headache. Why the hell do I have to circle the analog stick to swing? Konami could have done a better job with controller configuration. Movement is also sluggish and frustrating. It does get better with the upgrade system, as you can upgrade movement speed, jump height, etc., but why didn’t Konami just make moving around easier? Speaking moar about the upgrade system, it isn’t that bad, and it involves a little thinking to what upgrades you want to bring with you each mission (you can only carry a certain amount).
What about the immortality aspect? It’s a nice idea, but it is executed terribly. Bryce loses his limbs then his head when he takes damage; you can re-attach your limbs by simply rolling on them. When you’re playing as just his head, you can roll over the limbs, which will then attach to you. This aspect is really useless, and does nothing but make you look like a moron. Instead, you should just try to reattach to the body. To reattach to his body, you must align the head to his neck, which can be annoying when it’s stuck in an inconvenient place with no access to the neck. However, there’s a regeneration system in place. It will charge when Bryce loses limbs, and when it is fully charged, you can simply activate it to put yourself back together. Yet this gameplay mechanic gets old really quick, especially with the terrible camera angles. In several fights, I found myself overwhelmed or blindsided by monsters and ended up losing my head. I was either sucked up by these things called Grandbabbies (which exist solely to suck up your dismembered head. If you get sucked up, you must time your button pressing to burst free or game over) or I had to, as one user I ran across put it, “roll around like a dumbass, waiting for my powers of regeneration to regenerate.”
You can also forcefully detach your limbs in fights and to solve puzzles. One boss fight involves throwing one of your arms into his belly, which allows you to shoot from the inside to reveal his weak point (did I mention that you can still fire the guns from the dismembered limbs?). Most puzzles involve you tearing off your own head (or grabbing electrical boxes to blow off your head) in order to get through some small area to proceed. Yet the puzzles aren’t that challenging or varied enough, which furthers adds to this facepalm of a game.
And don’t get me started about the levels. Most levels involve entering rooms; these rooms are immediately sealed off, and you must then fight monster spitting vaginas until the area is cleared. You then move to the next monster filled room. By the way, the demons are so boring; there’s hardly any variation. What about Arcadia? She’s not the brightest NPC in the world, and since she’s mortal, you must protect her when she goes down, or else it’s game over.
Other things? The writing is terrible; Bryce and Arcadia utter the same phrases over and over (“Bryce, get your head in the game”, and “Rollin, Rollin, Rollin!” to name a few). The narrative sucks; as mentioned earlier, Bryce is a terrible protagonist, and the game just leads you on the typical “destroy the big bad guy at the end” adventure. Graphics are subpar, as the environments look like they were drawn by a 10 year old. The sound effects are bland, the voice acting is putrid, and listening to heavy metal in every battle gets mundane. There are multiplayer challenges, but you’re likely to find the lobbies void of any life seeing as how terrible this game is. Hopefully, the next game that takes a crack at immortality ends of doing it better, because NeverDead should remain forever dead.