Is that my arm?
NeverDead is a game you want to love. It’s an innovative take on a worn-out genre, and unfortunately, that’s where the positives end. The third-person shooter meets hack ’n’ slash adventure rarely results in anything amazing, and NeverDead is a case of it all going horribly wrong.
I’m Never Dead – NeverDead almost laughs in the face of every action hero’s refusal to die. Think about every shooter you’ve ever played. Nearly every protagonist shouldn’t have made it through to the end, but they always do against the odds after magically cheating death 17 times.
Bryce Boltzmann is special. He can never die. Not because he is a video game protagonist, but because he is immortal. Instead of a quick death, Bryce constantly faces the horror of having his limbs severed and vital organs disemboweled. That can’t be comfortable, but the fight must go on. To make matters worse, his head can he eaten whole by hordes of flesh-eating monsters, which triggers a game over screen. You didn’t think the lack of death for Bryce would mean the player could take infinite damage, did you?
Outside the square – In NeverDead’s favor is its ability to innovate. It isn’t the first game to dabble with the theme of immortality, but it also isn’t just another third-person shooter or hack ‘n’ slash adventure. It is its own game with an arsenal of weapons at your disposal and plenty of death. As a hectic third-person shooter with a different idea, NeverDead is serviceable, even if the mechanics need some work.
Rubbish Story – These games never have fantastic stories but they should at least try and make sense. NeverDead feels like they started writing — if you could call it that — before they had decided on a plot. The result is a disjointed narrative that gives the impression that even it doesn’t know what story it’s trying to tell, if any.
Boring Gameplay – The premises of an almighty immoral, capable of surviving and reeking havoc without any body part sounds badass, but it isn’t. The enemies are generic clones and mindlessly attack. Combat becomes boring in a matter of minutes and hardly evolves throughout.
Furthermore, the premise of recovering lost limbs is tedious. Surviving without them is cool, but having to recover them spoils the fun, especially when they are lodged somewhere inaccessible. I’d much rather never have a left arm again, than try to recover it in NeverDead. Then there are the boss battles. Third person shooters always try and be platformers when it comes to big, mean bosses. It rarely works well for the best of them, and is a disaster in NeverDead.
Broken Controls – The controls don’t do much to alleviate the clumsy gameplay. It’s a basic shooter/hack ‘n’ slash mash-up with controls that rely a great deal on luck. You never feel totally in control, and even if you did, the character of Bryce Boltzmann isn’t someone you would want to control. He doesn’t feel like he would be capable of surviving like a Bayonetta or Dante.
Terrible music, backgrounds – For all its gameplay and control flaws, one of the biggest gripes with NeverDead is its background music. I’m not the biggest fan of metal music, but nobody could enjoy listening to the same rubbish beats over and over again. It’s only surpassed by some truly terrible voice acting and corny one-liners.
The foreground visuals are decent without being anything special. The backgrounds, however, suggest time was cut short. They are repeated constantly and were never that special to begin with.
NeverDead could have been great but it fails to capitalise on its innovative premise. It reeks of a tight budget that was never going to be able to deliver its promise. The gameplay is fun for a little while as a generic third person shooter, but ultimately it succumbs to its control problems and disappointing enemies.