Summary: When creating a videogame protagonist with a particular super power, there's an extra responsibility to create a challenging, rewarding sense of balance. If your hero has enhanced strength and speed, how do you keep enemy opponents threatening without undermining the player's advantages? If your character cannot die, what elements can be introduced in order to maintain a believable conflict? NeverDead is a game that does not ask these questions.
Excerpt: At first, NeverDead seems like a standard, straight-up action game. You know the type. Walk into a room, kill a bunch of monsters, the door opens up, repeat. Every so often, there’s a mini-boss. At the end of the level, there’s a big boss. Pretty basic stuff. You attack with dual guns, or a sword. You block. You dodge. And sometimes you get hit.
Pros: Boss battles show small flickers of brilliance, Sword combat gets you away from the guns, Destructible environments occasionally work
Cons: The stupid, stupid dismemberments, Rolling around as a stupid head, Awful, stupid dialogue
Excerpt: You can tell a lot about a game by the stuff it asks you to pick up. Take Uncharted, for example, which squirrels away unique archaeological treasures off the beaten track, a conceit entirely in keeping with the series' fiction. Super Mario 3D Land's medals tease you into tricky tests of platforming skill or inquisitive probing. Batman: Arkham City, meanwhile, has the Riddler trophies, each an entertaining environmental puzzle to solve.
Excerpt: Gimmicks, specially made mechanics, hooks; they can all be a sharp double edged sword. On one hand, they can give a video game that special element it needs to push it away from the crowd. However, if the game is not tailored around the special gimmick, made to make the game that much more enjoyable for possessing it, then the game could unintentionally commit electronic hara-kiri. NeverDead, sadly, is the epitome of the latter edge of that blade.
Excerpt: I'll admit it, I really wanted NeverDead to be a great game. From the first time it was announced, back at E3 a few years ago (complete with headless presenter), it seemed like a unique mechanic to introduce to a third person action game. Now, upon the game's release -- that's true, the game's intention are still as pure as before, but everything else is so incredibly disappointing that it almost feels unfair.
Excerpt: Losing a loved one and paying the price is a theme that has been used before in numerous videogames (for example, God of War and Shadows of the Damned), but NeverDead has a slight twist to it with the protagonist, Bryce Boltzmann, being punished for centuries with an immortal Demon body but not a Demon mind.
Excerpt: Oh, Konami. Always trying to branch out with new game ideas. We admire that, but the execution of some of these games leave something to be desired. Case in point – NeverDead, the brain child of producer Shinta Nojiri and the team at Rebellion Developments, had a unique head on its shoulders – literally – and then fell apart at the seams – also literally.
Conclusion: There's a pretty good game to be found here underneath a considerable pile of design and execution flaws. It's worth a look right now for the more patient, curious, and tolerant player, but if you're on the fence, you might wait until the summer gaming drought.