NeverDead Review

NeverDead (Available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1-4
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Rebellion
Release Date: January 31, 2012
PSN/Xbox Live: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: In NeverDead, you can rip off your own arms and legs to serve as weapons, thus the ESRB obviously rated it M for mature because of blood, strong language and violence. Keep the kids far away from this one.

Plays Like: Devil May Cry to an extent, with less focus on combos.

Review Basis: Finished the game, and participated in a few multiplayer matches to see how the service holds up.

NeverDead was a big gamble for Konami.  Publishing a new, M-rated IP is a huge risk in this age of overinflated budgets and gamers that appear to care not for original games. NeverDead’s concept was maybe better on paper, but I give Konami props for trying something different.

The Great:

Losing your head…literally.  At any time, rip off your own head and roll around the environment to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. Throw your arms at huge creatures that will eat them, so you can blast them from the inside-out. The list goes on, and it’s fun to see Konami be this morbidly creative with gameplay.

The Good:

+ Fun action.  Kill everything in your path with an arsenal of guns and a huge sword. What’s not to like about that?

+ Upgrading. You earn experience by fighting, and collect the red fragment spoils to upgrade your abilities. Your guns and sword can be strengthened; infuse your limbs with explosives, etc. Some upgrade are plain wacky.

+ Nice locations and detailed animations.  The environments look nice and the enemy concepts are creative.  There’s a surprising level of interactivity too, with some element of destruction to enjoy. The cutscenes are pleasing too.

+ Crazy, insane, and ridiculous story…that works.  You’re between two different time periods, and encouraging to play in order to understand what in the past leads to the present.

The So-So:

+/- Bryce and Arcadia’s relationship. Our protagonists spend oodles of time together and enjoy a few moments, but their bond doesn’t quite deliver. An emotional connection is lost on the player.

+/- Mixed difficulty.  The beginning is a breeze, but it doesn’t take long before an army of powerful enemies provide a huge challenge. If your head is eaten and you fail the revival mini-game, it’s over.

+/- You’re sometimes just a head. With your limbs separated, it’s possible to be nothing but a rolling head or torso. You must collect yourself before the monsters eat it up. Should that happen, a small meter fills to let you rejoin your limbs. It works, but after the thousandth time, it gets old.

+/- Online multiplayer needs work. Competitive deathmatch and cooperative Horde-style modes are featured, but the issues that plague single-player are found here too.

The Bad:

– Extremely repetitive.  You move from one room to the next, from one courtyard to another, eliminating countless enemies. After that you solve a mini-puzzle and continue fighting. Throw in a boss battle…that’s NeverDead.

– The sword mechanics. They’re not exactly intuitive. Instead of a button-press, you hold a shoulder button and flail the right analog stick to mimic what you want Bryce to do. (Too Human anyone?) This was unnecessary and overly complex.

The Ugly:

Reaching a boss only to lose your head and some bugger eats it. When the revival mini pops up, and you fail, you must restart the battle. Some boss encounters last over twenty minutes!

The Lowdown:

NeverDead dares to be different, but bogs itself down with repetition and lackluster combat. This was a clear attempt at a franchise, so if a sequel is green-lit, I suggest Konami spends more time with the combat than anything else. Fix the sword mechanics, make the guns more powerful and add a combo system to reward players. Then break up the monotony by including more complex puzzles, and improve the protagonists’ relationship. Do all this, and NeverDead might be a winner. Regardless, it’s encouraging to see a developer create something new. If you find the game at a cheaper price, by all means give it a shot. Just don’t forget that NeverDead doesn’t take itself seriously, and is quite bizarre.

Average Score Scale: 6.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 6.5/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You want something completely different and appreciate a unique battle system.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: You don’t like repetition, and want a deep storyline. 

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