NeverDead (Video Game)
Developed by Rebellion
Distributed by by Konami
Rated M (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language)
Available for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360(reviewed)
There are many games out there that allow players to dismember enemies piece by bloody piece until they are dead, but very few let you dismember the main protagonist on purpose. However, dismembering yourself is one of the key game mechanics in Neverdead, and it’s about as much fun as it sounds–at first. As it turns out, you’d probably rather rip off your own head than play through the entire game.
NeverDead introduces you to a really interesting character named Bryce Boltzman. Bryce was once a demon hunter along with his wife, but when they tried to defeat the great demon king and failed, the two were separated for eternity, and Bryce was rendered an immortal demon. Fast forward 500 years, and Bryce has become a former shell of himself due to the grief he feels over losing his wife. He works for a company tracking down and killing lesser demons so he can afford to keep up his addiction to alcohol. He no longer has a purpose in life and spends his dreadful days the only way he knows how. When it is learned that the demon king has concocted a dark plan, however, Bryce gets a renewed purpose in life—to destroy the demon king once and for all.
Bryce is definitely an interesting character, but NeverDead misses a chance to make him a truly memorable character. Bryce receives very little character development over the course of the game, as he’d usually rather spit out a smartass one-liner than engage in real dialogue. The rest of the cast is filled with forgettable characters as well, and the storyline just never really gets all that interesting.
Usually these are minor complaints in this type of action game. However, NeverDead fails to deliver a fast, fluid battle system like you’d see in games such as Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden. You can alternate between melee combat with your sword and firing off countless rounds with the game’s variety of guns, but both the game’s control scheme and damage balance will force you to use your sword in nearly every scenario. This would be fine, but the game lacks any combo system. Instead of pulling off insane combination moves by hitting a complex sequence of buttons and getting rewarded with an on-screen display of pure awesomeness, you’ll boringly lock onto your enemies, hack and slash with the right analog stick, and rinse and repeat.
As the name of the game suggests, you can never be killed in NeverDead. You will be forced to restart if your head is devoured by an enemy however. This game mechanic is very unique, and it seems like a good idea at first. By the end of the game, rolling your head around to find your body and repeatedly having your limbs knocked off by tougher enemies will have become painstakingly annoying and a good reason to stop playing the game.
Dismemberment does allow for some interesting puzzles to be created in the game. One of the more enjoyable parts of NeverDead is rolling your head around in inaccessible areas to open up a new path to explore. This does offer a fun break from the headaches that combat in the game can cause, and it makes you wonder what could’ve been if Rebellion had only fine-tuned the combat more.
NeverDead is actually a nice looking game. Character models are crafted very well, and there are even some really cool bosses scattered throughout the game. The game’s soundtrack is pretty awful though; the abundance of heavy metal only makes the headaches this game causes that much worse. NeverDead does feature cooperative and versus multiplayer challenges for up to four players, but you probably won’t want to sit through these lackluster modes even with a buddy.
It’s unfortunate that NeverDead turned out the way it did. There are some really ingenious ideas in the game, but most, if not all, fall short of being fun additions. You may want to pick this game up once it hits your local game store’s bargain bin, but you shouldn’t pay an arm and a leg, a dismembered head or even $60 for this unpolished and disappointing game.
2 out of 5