Also on: PS3
Players: 1 – 4
The team at Rebellion made a splash in the video game world back on the Atari Jaguar with their amazing interpretation of Alien vs. Predator, and since then they have been kind of treading water with games like Rogue Warrior and Shellshock. But alas, the company has really never grabbed that big title that makes companies want to provide them with multiple job opportunities. Well, the good hearted folks at Konami aren’t ones to let track records get in the way of what could be a promising pitch, and with NeverDead, Rebellion’s latest entry into the gaming world, how could you not at least give these guys a try?
Playing in the same vein of a lesser Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, NeverDead takes that run n’ gun formula and applies some slicing n’ dicing elements against the foes of the underworld to it. NeverDead delivers a game that may not be remembered for its storyline or catchy one liners, but instead will be remembered to be the only game that allows you to be completely dismantled, from head to toe, and still live. What’s more is that you also have the ability to recapture your limbs and put yourself back together again and live on to fight some more. How is this all possible you may ask? Simply put you are an immortal man named Bryce Boltzmann, your typical anti hero who has lost everything, including his will to make more of himself, even given 500 years or so to make a better life (how long can you hold a grudge) for himself, so he has turned to fighting the undead and underworld baddies in order to keep balance to this world of disorder. Honestly, that’s about all we get from Bryce’s back-story as the game really picks up in the middle of hell week and expects you to fill in the blanks. Your partner Arcadia Maximille isn’t any more well written and what’s more her pretentious attitude and valley girl persona, tied to a cliché big breasted/low cut skirt design is more for the owners of the lonely heart than ones who will take this tramp too seriously.
There is a nice assortment of characters that, again, have no back-stories, but they are cool to look at, at least. This all seems like a huge missed opportunity; like a nice noir graphic novel that ends up going nowhere special. Again, the story isn’t going to be made into a movie anytime soon, unless Ewe Boll makes it. The game’s saving grace comes from the overall package which consists of great visuals, unique enemy design, interesting and innovative actions, and the fun of not only taking out enemies, but yourself in order to making things happen.
NeverDead looks like it leapt right out of the mind of Suda 51 with its crazy character design, oddball enemies, and over the top features. I again refer to making Bryce into bits of himself, and while the enemies will try to pick you apart like a broken G.I. Joe figure, you can sit beside yourself by using surrounding things like electric panels, explosives, etc. in order to purposely separate your body parts. Why would anyone subject themselves to this? Well thanks to some well placed level designs, you have an air duct, for instance, that is too small to investigate on the whole, but as a rolling head, it’s no problem. Don’t put realism into this at all if you want to know how Bryce’s head rolls around like a Katamari ball, just roll with the punches. Life isn’t all a bowl of cherries if you are in “just a head” form, as while you can never really die, there are enemies waiting to swallow you whole and you’ll have to live as an eternal head if you can’t perform a Quick Time event fast enough while inside the belly of the beast.
It is a hoot to watch Bryce jump around on one leg if he loses one, or go from dual wielding to one gun cause your arm has been knocked to the other side of the room. There are times when the fun becomes downright frustrating as it seems like you just can’t keep yourself whole long enough, even against the most rudimentary enemies in the land, who will keep coming if you don’t destroy the spawn beast that continues to spit them out relentlessly. Thankfully the puzzles are simple enough, the enemies beatable, and the environments gorgeous enough to keep yourself from ripping your own parts off.
The only other real downer is that NeverDead is literally over before you have a chance to gain more knowledge of the world, characters, and events, and the added co-op option really doesn’t provide for much more on the replay value of the game either. On paper, NeverDead should have been something really special. What you are left with is a concept that I’m sure will inspire other games in the future, and a formula and lasting value that lifts itself just slightly above average. It is still the best effort Rebellion has put forth in quite some time, it just ends up that their aim was just a little off to really hit the mark this time. It is worth a romp through though and I highly enjoyed the antics, ideas, game play, and overall look and feel of the game, it just really falls short in heart and story.