Hey, Have You Seen My Left Arm? – NeverDead Review

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 console.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to rip your limbs off and survive?  Me neither.  However, it seems that someone at Konami has been thinking about it, as NeverDead has rolled like a severed head onto shelves worldwide.  Is being immortal really all it’s cracked up to be?  Well put your arms back on (you’ll need them to scroll) and let’s find out!

In NeverDead, players take control of Bryce Boltzmann, a demon hunter who was cursed with immortality over 500 years ago.  Having failed to stop a demon king and save his wife, he wandered the land killing minor evils for booze money, with nothing left to live for, and no way to die.

Fast-forward to modern day and he has become a member of the NADA (National Anti-Demon Agency), a branch of the U.S. government.  While attacks from the other realm are a constant occurrence, their numbers have been steadily increasing.  Suddenly, Bryce gets pulled into a battle that is looking all too familiar.  The game’s story is humorous and fairly enjoyable, if not a little predictable, and should keep gamers occupied for eight to ten hours.

NeverDead plays as a third-person shooter with hack ‘n’ slash elements.  Bryce can duel wield various guns, from pistols to assault rifles, to take down foes from afar.  Should players run out of ammo, come across bullet resistant enemies, or simply want to get up close and personal, Bryce packs a Butterfly Blade.  This folding sword is a little hard to wield at first, but upon mastery it’s a deadly tool.  Switching back and forth between guns and sword is the key to survival against the hordes of demons you’ll face.

While all this seems pretty straightforward, the game has a very unique feature: Bryce’s immortality.  Unlike a traditional health bar that diminishes when damage is taken, when our hero takes too many hits he will lose a limb instead.  Detached appendages can be reattached by either dive-rolling over them or via regeneration.  The latter method takes time though – five seconds per lost body part, to be exact.

Take too much damage, however, and Bryce will literally lose his head.  At this point, he loses control of his body, and will roll his cranium around like a stray bowling ball.  To continue the fight, players need to slap that noggin back on its body.  They can either roll it back on, or flat out regenerate the entire body.  Either way, once it’s in place you’re back to cooking fools.

So some readers at this point may be thinking: “If I can’t die, this must be the easiest game ever!”  That’s where you’re wrong.  Bryce may be immortal, but his teammate Arcadia is not.  She will accompany Bryce throughout most of the game, and if she is hurt she will need to be revived.  Neglect her too long and it’s game over.
Another way to fail the mission is to have your head swallowed.  Certain demons (called Grandbabies) will attempt to eat your severed parts, and if they get a hold of your head then Bryce will spend eternity being digested.  Should his head be gobbled up, there is one last chance to survive: if players can hit the right button at the right time, they’ll escape, violently bursting from inside the creature.

Dismemberment also plays a hand in puzzle solving as there are some instances where players will need to rip off limbs to progress in the level.  Bryce’s head can be detached to navigate small holes and vents, and his arms can be used to either distract enemies or complete electrical currents.  If players purchase and equip certain abilities, his arms can also be thrown and blow up like grenades.  That’s one explosive handshake!

While for the most part gameplay is very unique and fun, it can get a tad repetitive.  While the game will introduce new enemies along the way, players will continue to fight the same battles again and again in each mission.  The same kind of combat will take place in each level, with only the setting and certain enemies changing.  Even some boss battles end up being relived again later.  It’s a shame that such a distinctive concept couldn’t feature more varied combat.

For those wishing to fight with friends, NeverDead sports an online mode.  Up to four players can work together to complete various challenges; from saving hostages to destroying wave after wave of enemies to competing Easter Egg hunts of all things.  This feature adds several hours to the game, and (perhaps more importantly) adds a great deal of replayability.

Gameplay aside, the title is quite appealing.  Each and every texture is extremely well polished, free of both pixilation and pop.  The cutscene quality in NeverDead is absolutely amazing and is a great treat for the eyes.  Character design for both good and bad guys, bosses and minions alike, is incredibly creative and has generated some of the best looking monsters I’ve seen of late.

To counter the wonderful video is some great audio.  The squishing of body parts ripping off is carefully crafted, as are all other sound effects.  Dialog is delivered fantastically, with very believable performances.  NeverDead’s score is often very aggressive, with a kind of rock/ heavy metal feel that keeps up very well with the fast-paced action.  For the metal heads, Megadeth is on board writing and performing the game’s titular track; each sound and note in the game is right in place.

From the get-go, NeverDead shows that it’s a demonic force to be reckoned with.  From unique gameplay, to impressive visuals and audio, this is one title to get shoot-um-up and hack ‘n’ slash fans foaming at the mouth.  In a world where titles can be rehashed and rereleased under a different name, it is very refreshing to find such a stand-alone concept.  My hat (and hopefully not my head) comes off to the creator of this fantastic game!

Final Score: 4.75 / 5.0 and a severed hand holding a trophy!

Our Rating
out of 5.0

About This Post

February 7, 2012 - 8:35 am