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Game review: NeverDead

27 Feb 2012

There are a lot of games out there that involve the player blasting the stuffing out of hordes of zombies. Ever since the release of Resident Evil back in the mid ‘90s, we’ve seen the likes of Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Dead Island come our way. Even games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Red Dead Redemption added zombie killing modes. NeverDead takes a reverse approach however, opting to put the player in the role of the zombie instead.

The game kicks off five centuries ago when anti-hero Bryce Boltzmann witnesses his wife Cypher being murdered by a demon king named Astaroth. Astaroth curses Bryce to immortality – and takes one of his eyes for good measure – and he proceeds to descend into a drunken despair. Now, he spends his days boozing while earning some money on the side helping out the National Anti-Demon Agency (NADA) with his partner, the typically underdressed Arcadia. 

The most unique factor about NeverDead is that there is no life bar in the game. Because Bryce is immortal, he can never die during battle. That does not necessarily mean NeverDead is an easy game, however, as there are many other obstacles standing in Bryce’s way. 

NeverDead has the unique gameplay feature of Bryce actually getting his limbs torn apart piece-by-piece. The gameplay still continues, even if Bryce has been fully decapitated. When your limbs have been detached by enemies, it’s in your best interest to recover your lost limbs so that Bryce can become whole again. Alternatively, you can wait for a few seconds until Bryce is able to regenerate his own limbs. 

Of course, what’s part curse is also part blessing, and Bryce can use his regenerative ability to get out of sticky situations. If there’s no way out of a room apart from a small air vent, you can simply tear Bryce’s head off and chuck it inside. There is even a boss where you have to tear your own arm off and throw it inside the monster’s mouth, allowing you to shoot it from the inside. It’s these unorthodox and creative ideas that separate NeverDead from the pack. 

Sadly, the one thing stopping NeverDead from being a cult classic is its appalling combat system. Although Bryce can use both guns and a sword to battle demons in this game, it’s far from the kind of fluid and slick system seen in games like the Devil May Cry series. Aiming your guns at enemies becomes almost redundant as most enemies are so fast that you don’t even have time to shoot them. Not to mention, some enemies have devastating attacks that will often result in you losing all your limbs. This type of thing happens all the time, and it gets very annoying when you can’t go a few seconds without an enemy tearing your appendages off. 

One very annoying feature is a particular type of monster with a vacuum that can suck your head inside its body. If you are unable to press the right button at the right time, Bryce’s head is stuck inside that monster for all of eternity and it’s game over. This happened to me countless times during this game, even while battling bosses.  It would have been okay if the type of monster was only seen during some levels but they’re around for almost the entire game. 

The structure for each mission gets highly repetitive as well. The demons will often block your path and the only way out of this is to kill EVERY last demon in the vicinity. This is easier said than done because annoying seeds come out and spawn more demons in the area. You must then destroy these seeds first before killing the rest of the demons. This happens on every level you play and occurs every few minutes. If there was no sword to use in NeverDead, the game would have been even more annoying than it already is. 

Pictured: how it feels to play NeverDead.

There is a multiplayer mode in this game but I was unfortunately unable to test this out. This was not because the servers were down or anything, it was because I could not find anyone to play with. Sadly, there’s no offline multiplayer included in this game so you’re only stuck with the online mode, which is pretty much dead at this point. You won’t see a healthy online community as you do for the Call of Duty and Halo games. 

The characters are humorous and the banter between Bryce and Arcadia can be pretty funny. The character of Bryce reminds me a lot of Michael Madsen for some reason. He could easily be a character you might see in any Quentin Tarantino movie. I found the characters in NeverDead to be a lot more exciting than in most other games we see today. Bryce is a much more likeable main character than the boring characters you often see in FPS shooter games.

The main soundtrack is composed by Megadeth, so if you’re a heavy metal fan (like me), you should enjoy the music. If not, you will probably think the music is horrendous. That being said, the hard music suits the overall atmosphere of the game so it shouldn’t bother too many people. 

NeverDead is a unique game that is unlike any other game I have ever played before. Who else has played a video game before where you can roll around as only a head? However, as humorous as the game can be, it sadly falls short of being a classic because the gameplay is repetitive, dull and uninspired. If only the developer had spent more time polishing up the gameplay, NeverDead could have been a surprise hit. 

Graphics: 7.0

Sound: 7.5

Gameplay: 6.0

Lasting Appeal: 5.5

Overall: 6.5

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