Supported Controllers (hover for description)
And it's into the latter category that our protagonist in NeverDead (because, y'know, he's NeverDead, because he's always alive. Do you see what they did there?) slots in. An immortal for reasons unknown, Bryce is a bit of a grumpy man, never lacking a sarcastic one liner, as he goes about his job, as a kind of demon version of a Ghostbuster. Working for an agency that deals with sightings, or appearances of demons, Bryce follows orders from his boss (with whom he shares something of a love-hate relationship) - a blonde named Arcadia who wears an impossibly short dress, as the two work together in order to eliminate the demons, that seemingly have a nasty habit of popping up all around the town.
But it's the fact that Bryce is immortal that offers the most opportunities for interesting gameplay here. In fact, you'd imagine that not being able to die would make for a game that's a lot easier - but that's not necessarily true. While you're off galavanting around without a care in the world, your partner, Arcadia, is very much human, and, if she takes enough beating, she can be incapacitated. If you don't reach her in time to revive her, she will die - so it is more than possible to get a game over. Annoyingly, there's no option for co-op play here, split-screen or otherwise, so you'll have to rely on Arcadia to keep herself out of danger. Luckily, she does seem to be able to look after herself, and is otherwise quite handy with her guns.
In NeverDead, though, things certainly get off to a rough start. The game kicks off with a boss fight (which is an odd idea, to say the least) against a strange, fat, green monster dressed in Shakespearean garb - and there's very little in the way of explanation about what you have to do. Luckily, the boss fight is sufficiently easy, and we don't believe you can actually die - in fact, the whole thing seems to have been set up so they can play you their exclusive song, written by Dave Mustaine, of Megadeth fame.
In fact, it's somewhat fitting that the game drops you in at the deep end of combat, as that's what the rest of the game is mostly about. Once you're past the first level, any puzzles are few and far between, with most of the game revolving around blowing seven bells out of all variety of demonic monsters, who seem to just keep coming at you. The problem is, it quickly all gets rather formulaic, as pretty much every encounter follows the same pattern. Wander around a building, and you'll start being attacked by demons. Stroll a bit further in, and you'll find the "womb" which spawns them into the world. Destroy the wombs, and you'll stop the demons - at least until the next one appears in the next room you enter, anyway.
Thankfully, there are some more unique features that spice things up a little bit. The first is that you have a sword you can use - and that you have to use, in order to kill certain enemies - although it is a little bit awkward to control. In order to get out your sword, you have to press a button. Then, to be able to swing it at your enemies, you have to hold another button, and then wiggle the right analogue stick in the direction you want to chop. It's all very awkward to begin with, but it is possible to get your head around.
A bit more impressive is just how destructible all the environments are that the combat takes place in. Fire at your enemies, and stray bullets will bring strip lighting down, smash windows, and, somewhat inexplicably, cause walls to explode. And we mean, explode - not just tearing chunks off, but literally, exploding as though each bullet you fired turned into a stick of dynamite once it was embedded in the wall, with pillars, and even entire floors of multi storey buildings suffering the same fate. It can all get a little bit crazy, but it certainly provides you with plenty of opportunities for taking out the larger enemies.
However, whilst Bryce may be "NeverDead", he's certainly not indestructible - at least, in the traditional sense of the word, anyway. In fact, he's the exact opposite. Should Bryce take a particularly nasty hit in combat, it could well lead to him losing an arm or a leg. A particularly nasty demon that resembles a larger, angrier, bald bulldog can tear off a limb with ease - and if you're in the range of an explosion, you could even lose your head. Luckily, though, as Bryce is invincible, you can afford to lose as many limbs as you want, and you won't die - lose your legs, and you'll crawl around the building, lose both your arms and legs, and you'll be reduced to a shuffle. In something of a sick joke, if an enemy runs off with your arm, you can still fire your gun - sadly, you can't aim it, so there's little point in doing so, but it still got a reaction from us...
Should you ever find yourself as just a head, however, all is still not lost, as you can roll around the levels, and even jump (although we're not sure how he manages that)... What you do have to watch out for, though, are the annoying, small ball-shaped enemies (which always just so happen to be around as you lose your head) that, should they get the chance, will suck your head inside them, at which point you get a minigame. Stop the moving line in the right place, and you'll be blown back into the real world - but should you miss it, you'll be trapped in the demon's belly forever. This is the game's get out clause for not being able to die - you don't technically die - you're just trapped forever, which gets you a game over.
Luckily, once you've lost your limbs, all is not lost, as all you have to do is roll over them (by pressing B on the 360), and they'll magically reattach. Even if you're just a head, you can roll over your arm, or leg, and it'll attach to you, making for some rather odd looking creations. While your limbs are missing, the game does try to show you where they are using arrows - but if you can't find them, all you have to do is click the analogue stick to regenerate yourself.
And it's this decapitation/dismemberment idea that gets used in the game's few puzzles. Often, you'll be required to either rip your own arm, or head off, in order to chuck it and reach a previously inaccessible area. Rolling through a ventilation shaft, before regenerating the rest of your body is an odd, if somewhat darkly humorous idea - but the problem is, there's not enough of it.
Most of NeverDead, rather than being a decent mix of puzzles and combat, instead revolves around fighting demons, which all seems rather samey. Once you've killed one set of demons, you've killed them all, and with so little variety, some fiddly controls, and annoying respawning enemies (at least, until you've taken out the "wombs"), things can get very tiring, very quickly. And it's a shame, because the main character's entertaining enough, and the whole idea seems original enough too. It has a dark sense of humour, and some witty one liners, but there's just not enough to keep you playing. With a more robust storyline, and some more emphasis on puzzles, this could have been a lot better than it is.
- Decent characters.
- Interesting idea, being an immortal.
- Some of the puzzles are fun, if a bit sick.
- Very repetitive combat.
- No lock on makes battles harder than they should be.
- Same old, same old.