Reviews// NeverDead

Posted 31 Jan 2012 10:01 by
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Games: NeverDead
'NeverDead' is, it turns out, a vaguely utilitarian title for Konami's upcoming shooter/hack 'n' slash horror-ish game. It doesn't sound like one. It sounds like one of those generic names that's really just code for 'features dismemberment' ? 'HorrorSlash' or 'DeathVertibrate' or whatever. But no, NeverDead actually stars a guy who can never die. That sounds like a very flawed premise for a game that you'd hope would offer some sort of challenge, but actually it opens up some interesting gameplay features.

You're Bryce, a demon hunter who was made immortal by demons some 500 years ago. You now spend your days working for some government agency or other hunting the type of chap who made you immortal. Your equipment consists of a sword with a butterfly design (I guess that's Lightning's fault) and a gun for each fist. Oh, and a bad attitude, complete with a healthy disrespect for authority, obv. So it is that you skip off into the modern world to do some demon-fighting.

As mentioned above, the catch - the unique selling point - is the fact that you can't die. At a glance, this looks like a recipe for a game that's too easy. Except, of course, you can't really die in any game these days. For the most part, the worst that's going to happen to you upon receiving some sort of mortal wound/evisceration these days is you'll be set back by about three minutes to a checkpoint. Acknowledging that and playing with it is actually a pretty fun idea.

In the absence of death, you're faced with dismemberment and the occasional trip to a demon's belly for all eternity. The dismemberment tends to happen quite a lot. Take too big a hit from an enemy and you'll lose anything from an arm right through to your entire body. After a maiming you can choose to either recover your lost body parts by combat-rolling into them or stick it out until your health regenerates and you can respawn replacement parts. Lose a single arm and you're reduced to single-handed gunplay. Lose your entire body and you're left controlling a rolling head. It's novel, kind of fun and leads to some interesting gameplay mechanics.

For example, if there's a locked door to get around you might rip off your head and lob it into an open vent, roll through the system to the other end then puke a new body out of your neck. Alternatively, when faced with an enemy that's protecting its weak spot (fortunately, like many demons, the enemies in NeverDead have big glow-y vulnerable points) you might feed it your arm, gun still in-hand, then start shooting it up from the inside.

You can also happily do things like set yourself on fire or charge up with electricity - talents that become pretty useful when you purchase abilities such as firing flaming bullets.

In place of 'death' is the possibility of getting your head stuck inside a demon, or of your sexy female partner going down for the count and you not getting to her in time. I've never failed to revive her, so I can't tell you what the consequence of that is, but if I can manage to revive her every time, I'm pretty sure you will too. (Needless to say, she never provides much assistance to you. She's there as eye candy and an occasional damsel in distress rather than as a genuine AI partner).
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