As a veteran gamer who cut his gaming teeth on the likes of the ZX81, I can honestly say that I’ve never played a game before quite like Konami’s Demon hunting NeverDead!
Is that a bad thing? In theory, no as it’s always refreshing to play an original game.
NeverDead starts way back in time when your character, Bryce (Boltzman) was a young Demon Hunter, who fails to slay the Demon King due to his Medium partner being killed, Bryce is then punished by having a demonic eye implanted, This in turn makes Bryce immortal in a different way to most other games, If Bryce’s arms, legs or head is bitten, sliced or blown off he can hop jump or crawl to find them, luckily they are fitted with trackers, so they are easy to keep tabs of.
Losing your head is something that is generally encouraged not to do in the majority of games, In NeverDead however, it may be necessary for you to do exactly this in order to complete some of the puzzle sequences that you need to complete in order to progress through the game with your allies, one of which is a female government agent called Arcadia and the other is a rather annoying/spoilt young female pop star.
On the whole, throughout the game Bryce is a likeable character, and after 500 years life on the planet he does seem tired of being immortal and this comes across more so in Bryces voice.
NeverDeads style of gameplay is quite good, with controls that are setup just right to allow for dual wielding a variety of weapons available, these weapons can also be controlled when your arms are detached from your body, and as such can cause some unusual moments, my favourite weapon was Bryce’s sword, which is controlled using a rather unusual combination. At times though the game does become repetitive, but it still had just enough of an addictive quality about it to bring you back for more, such as battles set across a crumbling suspension bridge, a tube station and fighting inside a boss’s stomach, all of which are deluged with demons of varying shapes & sizes.
NeverDeads level design could be better, all levels have destructive environments that are all too easy to spot, with demons spawning next to the good ol gaming staple of “red exploding barrels” that we see in a lot of games nowadays, or spawning next to pillars that can be easily destroyed, In most levels, Bryce will just simply enter an area / room that fills with demons and he can only leave once the room is free of all demons, It is fun at first, but to some gamers it may become all too repetitive, if you can overlook this then you may benefit from the additional XP that can be gained from repetitive killing of enemies, this all counts towards unlocking such things as fire / shock bullets, an increase in health or weapons or by turning Bryce’s arms into timed thrown explosives.
Demons are in plentiful supply for you to battle against, with an interesting mix of shapes and sizes that range from Puppies, Dogs and Spoons, these all spawn from hubs appearing in random places, and while the pace of the game is ok, it’s the near endless spawning of enemies that occurs if you don’t knock out those hubs in time that becomes a little annoying at times.
As most games nowadays feel obliged to have a multiplayer component to keep the new breed of gamers happy, NeverDead comes with 13 multiplayer games that allow you to choose a character and then upgrade them further by winning different game modes such as search & rescue, horde and co-op challenges.
One thing that I detest in all games is the use of skill-sapping quick time events, these can transform a good game into a poor game as there is no enjoyment gained from pressing a button to order, as such i found it frustrating when after 15-20 minutes of demon killing you fail a quick time event because your head was hovered up by a small demon and then have to start from the last checkpoint.
On the whole we liked NeverDead, there are some frustrating moments, but then no game is perfect, Bryce is a likeable character and demon killing is always good fun, except when it becomes repetitive. NeverDead has an innovative combat system that’s let down by poor level design and endless spawning enemies
[This review first appeared on Experienced-Gamers.com prior to our merger with game-play.tv]