NeverDead? NeverHeard of it.
NeverDead is a gun shooting, sword slashing, demon killing and limb detaching game developed by Rebellion Developments. You play as Bryce Boltzmann, a 500 year old immortal demon hunter living in modern times and tasked to hunt down demonic creatures that roam the city.
It’s not easy being a gamer in Australia. I wasted several days searching for NeverDead at local video stores only to find out that it’s apparently impossible to rent here. I resorted to spending 85 Aussie dollars so it could haunt me forever. That is one of the most regrettable things I’ve ever done.
Bryce, voiced by Rip Torn…get it?
The only thing NeverDead can come close to boasting about is the dismemberment concept. Simply put: When Bryce gets attacked his limbs and head come off. That’s it.
In the hands of a more capable developer, this mechanic could have been incredibly revolutionary as a way of distributing the player’s health into pieces of their own body. While losing limbs does hinder how you move and fight, it all comes down to a tedious and annoying idea where you roll around as a pathetic head like a chump and look for your torso.
This wouldn’t be so horrendous if Bryce himself wasn’t built like a doll made out of silly putty.
This wouldn’t be so horrendous if Bryce himself wasn’t built like a doll made out of silly putty. Every single attack from virtually any enemy has the potential of instantly ripping you apart. This constantly results in your head popping off your neck and launching 20 metres away from the rest your body. You’ll spend a lot of time bouncing back to your torso and trying to find where your neck is.
It’s so tiresome I almost didn’t notice that a head was able to move and speak.
The combat and dismemberment concepts are connected throughout the entire experience. Repetitive and boring demonic creatures bombastically jump and slash at you, causing your limbs to fly off. Instead of consistently attacking your head by bashing it into a bloody pulp, they just wait for you to jump onto your neck and regenerate the rest of your body.
Therefore, the game play in NeverDead ranges from being rather enjoyable to a jarring shift where everything just waits for you to be whole again.
There were numerous occasions when my body was ripped apart, and just as I finished reattaching all the pieces, something slashes me, forcing me to start the whole tedious task again.
THE ONLY THREAT IN THE GAME!!!
There are small starfish creatures that suck your dismembered head into them and kill you. Since no other enemy even registers you rolling around those starfish demons are LITERALLY the only thing in the entire game that can kill you, including falling into lava.
And because it’s relatively easy to get out of them, the combat lacks any tension or challenge and simply becomes a test to see how much annoyance you can put up with without stopping…which is what I did during the last boss fight.
I haven’t finished the game and I don’t care.
Every location needs to have these creatures around since no other enemy can kill you which washes away the atmosphere when you’re tactically shooting the end boss and these tiny white things are rolling around your feet like globular puppies.
With a surprisingly catchy soundtrack and an awesome bullet time mechanic, NeverDead can actually get enjoyably manic at times. The most fun I had was fighting my way through a subway while dodging trains in slow motion.
Bryce is able to wield two weapons on each arm, allowing you to quickly and effectively switch the kind of damage you dish out. My personal favourite combination was a handgun on one hand and a shotgun on the other. Shooting a big demon dog with the small bullets of a handgun before blowing it apart with one blast from a shotgun is simply delightful.
You can also brandish a sword which I found invaluable after I finally figured out how to swing the bloody thing. To use the sword, you hold the left trigger and move the right joystick to swing it in different directions.
This is a gaming idea that I really encourage. It allows the player to feel more in control as they pull the blade to one side before slashing it to the other instead of mashing a button to make the character flail a weapon in an already pre-programmed display.
I spent the next nine minutes watching Bryce hold it at weird angles and thrash his body around like he’s trying to bash the door down with his pelvis.
However NeverDead barely teaches you how to use it. So when I was trapped by a chain-locked door and was told to use my sword, I spent the next nine minutes watching Bryce hold it at weird angles and thrash his body around like he’s trying to bash the door down with his pelvis.
When using the sword on enemies, they split apart in a beautifully visceral display and it was only near the end when I started using guns more, purely out of boredom. Also, ripping off your head to use for infrequent and boring puzzles is always wonderfully disgusting as he cracks and twists it off his neck.
Almost every combat situation involves you being trapped in a dull room while these seemingly indestructible mouths come up from the ground and continuously vomit out demons. The rooms themselves are constantly sealed until all the creatures are killed which adds another tedious layer to the monotony cake.
There are several boss fights in key moments during NeverDead’s vacuous and vague story. Some of them are just boring and involve you shooting it in specific weak spots, which was a stale mechanic when Dead space did it back in 2008.
However, there were two bosses that I found unexpectedly fun; the first being the Hippo demon with its awesome design and shield generator, and the second being Alex.
Now, NeverDead’s characters are as bland as a game can get, with Arcadia being the most inanely boring woman I have ever seen in any game. Ever. Alex is no different and may be even worse, since he shows up less and you can tell he’ll turn evil the millisecond after you see him for the first time.
Bryce has a yellow eye and wears brown clothes, which means he’s gruff but has a heart of gold. While Alex has a red eye and wears skin tight black, which means he’s deceitful and foppish.
Just before the final boss fight, Alex inexplicably shows up to fight you for a barely explained reason. The battle involves you attacking his acrobatic body until he blocks with his arms which you then slice off with your sword. Excluding the fact that you have to do this at least three goddamn times, the fight with Alex is thrilling and exciting, involving him kicking you without any arms and throwing his knives at you.
Those little starfish bastards are rolling around you during the entire fight, which diminishes any threat the situation has. Alex can’t actually kill you himself, but can only create a situation where you may get swallowed by the little starfish demon buggers.
NeverDead is stunted in almost every way. It has some delightful little sparks but is overall a tedious and lackluster experience from start to finish. If it wasn’t for the fact that I foolishly chose to review it for this site, I would have stopped before the first hour.
BoG’s NeverDead Score 5.0
Why so high?
- Rare moments of crazy fun.
- Some interesting creature designs.
- Soundtrack is relatively rockin’.
- Arcadia is unfathomably hot and there’s one cinematic where it zooms into her cleavage.
Why so low?
- Incredibly tedious gameplay.
- Lack of threat or challenge.
- Vague story, boring characters and predictable villains.
- Failed potential.
- Barely any innovation.
- Graphics suited to a good PS2 game.