NeverDead | GIZORAMA

NeverDead

March 1, 2012 by

[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”Rebellion” publishers=”Konami” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”January 31, 2012″]

“Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair!” Normally I like to start off my reviews with an intro paragraph with a little background information on the game or license. Most of the time I mention something like… NeverDead was developed by Rebellion and published by Konami. NeverDead is another attempt to capture the Western audiences for the Japanese publishers. But I can’t this time. The above quote has driven me nuts. It represents the two fundamental flaws in NeverDead. The gimmick of Bryce, the main character/immortal, and his frequent dismemberment as a gameplay mechanic gets old fast, but the kicker is that Bryce is written as your typical one liner smart ass and ends up saying the same lines just as often as he loses his body parts. He loses those body parts right down to his head which will roll around until eaten by a demon, the NPC he escorts dies, he spends enough time as a head to auto reform or he collects his body parts himself. As a head rolling he constantly says, “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.” To simulate the experience of the game in the review, expect to read “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.” a lot.

Bryce Boltzmann should have died 500 years ago with his wife. They were hunting a demon called Astaroth and lost. Astaroth killed Bryce’s wife and took his eye before cursing him with immortality. One has to wonder why a demon would grant immortality to someone trying to kill them. If movies, video games, and television taught us anything is that you don’t give the hero an opportunity, let alone an unending amount of opportunities. Five hundred years has changed Bryce. He has gone from the cringe worthy Do-Gooder archetype to the sarcastic smart-ass full of one liners anti-hero circa the 1980’s. While everyone loves a good anti-hero, Bryce feels like a poser. Bryce is just not a likeable character. “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.”

Bryce’s mortal female partner, Arcadia Maximille (honestly who is naming these characters….Boltzmann and Maximille?), isn’t much more likeable. Her character plays out much how the rest of the world must view American women… blonde, busty, and full of quips that could easily fall out of Paris Hilton’s mouth. Arcadia works for some organization that hunts Demons which are destroying the city. It becomes clear that Arcadia’s sole purpose of being in the game is to be helpless tits and ass for Bryce to protect and play out his sexual frustrations against. Characters lack motivation and fall into stereotypical archetypes with that being the only true influence on their actions. It is on par with children playing with action figures. It seems that the writers spent more time coming up with one-liners for Bryce rather than actually putting together a real story. “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.”

NeverDead really wants to be Devil May Cry in terms of gameplay. The main modus operandi for dispatching foes is gun play. Unfortunately the aiming is horrible and by the time you line your sights up another enemy has knocked your head off. “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.” Even if you shoot the demons, your bullets feel ineffective. That leaves you the player with a poorly controlled sword mechanic. The right thumbstick is used to slash away at enemies but instead of coming off as smooth combos, sword combat devolves into Bryce looking like the Star Wars kid of YouTube fame swinging side to side. Bryce’s combat is so bad that enemies tend to kill themselves and others by destroying pieces of the environment and having the debris fall on them. Unfortunately the environment destruction is so random that it’s not consistent enough of a tool for Bryce to use. Plus it is hard to destroy environments when you are stuck spending most of your time rolling your head like Katamari Damacy. “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.”

Bryce also can unlock perks with experience. With the ability to upgrade movement, guns, and swords with perks, Bryce is limited to only picking a few out of what he buys to fill slots. The upgrade system helps a bit with the ineffective feeling of combat, but you usually are still only fixing one thing due to the limitations of the slot system. If you make the sword better, then guns still suck and it is only more obvious now. The slot system’s purpose is to create a sense of strategy but the ends up showcasing the limitations of the combat and how just a little more effort could have made NeverDead almost fun to play. “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.”

The lackluster combat would not be so bad if the enemy encounters weren’t the same thing over and over. Bryce’s way gets blocked. Lesser demon enemies spawn from hellmouths. Bryce hacks his way to said hellmouths to stop the spawning. Rinse and Repeat. Not only is it the same combat scenario throughout the game, it is the same enemies. The enemies you fight in the first stage are the same ones you will fight in every other stage. There aren’t even any skin changes to try and trick you into thinking you are fighting something new. Instead of different enemy models it seems Rebellion just focused on Bryce’s hair..so much so that it is a major concern of his. “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.”

As mentioned before, the main gimmick for NeverDead is the dismemberment portion of the game. Bryce falls apart at the slightest touch sometimes. After about 15 minutes of gameplay it becomes obvious that Rebellion has a fetish for the old Crash Test Dummies toys where the slightest impact would send their body parts flying. The Crash Test syndrome is incorporated into the puzzles, platforming, and even combat of the game. Roll your head into a vents, toss your arm while it is shooting, explode body parts like they are grenades, and sacrifice body parts to traps are just a few of the repetitive actions you will experience while purposely dismembering yourself. Unfortunately these activities never get more complicated than their basic implementations. The lost potential for turning the core feature of NeverDead into something cool is saddening. Instead of extravagant puzzles and strategies revolving around the Crash Test syndrome, the game sticks us with a rolling head spouting, “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.”

Graphically NeverDead is a good looking game with a style much like a Suda 51 game. Sound wise, it has voice acting and you can’t blame the actors for the bad dialogue but their acting is reasonable just not great. The soundtrack for the game was actually composed by Megadeth and while it’s not their best work, the rock riffs that ramp up amidst battle are sweet. I wish I could tell you about the multiplayer portion of the game but unfortunately I have tried to find a game online since release and have yet to see a single person online on PSN. I believe it is some kind of co-op like horde mode. Everyone was probably too worried about messing up their hair. “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.”

Score: 2/10

NeverDead takes an interesting concept, style and sound and drops the ball. It might never have had the chops to be a triple A title but it could have easily been a solid 8. Combat and the repetitive nature of the design drag the game way down to the point that you don’t even want to play it after the initial hour. Especially when you keep hearing Bryce say, “Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.”

About Brandon Koch

I write stuff. I play stuff. I code stuff.
  • Willian Ball

    Thanks for the good writeup. It if truth be told was once a amusement account it. Glance advanced to far delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep in touch?

  • Well @maiki60fps Well you do have to realize that even with the oariingl Classic Game Room, they reviewed Dreamcast games, which were at the time as modern as our 360 games.CGR has been this way for like 10 years. Classic games and new games, anything worth reviewing.