Release Date: August 25, 2017
Publisher: Sometimes You
Platform: PS Vita (Reviewed), Steam
These days, there are a lot of popular tropes that seem to sell games. Minecraft's unique visuals pull people into the world, where the timeless look will last for ages. Dark Souls throws you into a realm where difficulty is king, and hardcore players relish the thrill of dying over and over to achieve their goal. Games like Diablo have offered randomized dungeons for years, giving replay value to a title. Resident Evil offered difficult controls on purpose to add to the tension. Roguelikes with their insta-death, no save structure were inspiration for some of the above tropes, and offered quick, tense gameplay with permanent loss of progress upon death. Many of these flavors stand well on their own, but crafting a good combination is like making a good meal. Just because I like pancakes, hot dogs, chocolate syrup, and ranch dressing doesn't mean that they all need to be on a plate together.
Unfortunately, this is where I find myself with NeverEnd. I can see it's from a small company, given the fact that I can find out so little about the game. There's a game from seven years ago called Neverend, and it populates any search for information I find, with information on that game linked to screenshots of this one. The website for the publishing company, SometimesYou, is the only piece of information in the virtual instruction manual, and their website has nothing on the title. All I'm finding is some broken English text on the PlayStation Store website that states you are an adventurer who wakes up in another dimension, enemies swarm you, you find new weapons and face a final boss, and the tip that "Neverend is a hard game so stay tough and enjoy the game." At $2.99, this is a value title that you shouldn't really expect a lot out of to start. As I stated, however, I feel a lot of gamer tropes were thrown in the pot here, and they may not go well together.
NeverEnd is a top-down dungeon crawler with randomized rooms. For all the powerful weapons you are supposed to find, I started out with a stick, and through the time in my game I found one shop with one alternate weapon, a fishing pole. I whacked at a couple monsters with it but died before I got back to water for actual fishing. You have three hearts, worth one hit apiece. There are potions, I eventually found out, but I couldn't always get them to work. Eventually I had more luck using them when standing still, which doesn't really work for combat. When you find rooms with enemies, you are locked in until they are all dead, so they have to be used on the run.
Meanwhile, combat revolves around walking up to enemies and hitting them with your weapon (re: stick in my situation). If they get close to you, you get hit. Three hits, dead. In order to hit them, you must get close. There is no strafing, backpedaling is slow, and your shield doesn't really do much to block. I found myself waiting through an animation, running forward, whacking once, and barrelling out as fast as I could. This game of tag style gameplay often led to my death, but as I've said, with little to no instruction or support, I had to craft my own style of play. I've won one award: a helmet that kinda looks like the top of Sonic the Hedgehog's head. How did I get it? By getting a game over within ten seconds. What does it do? Nothing.
With the randomized world, your first room might be a single spider, or it could be six Zomborgs (Orc Zombies). Enemies move in set patterns, and have very little animation. Spiders move randomly and powerslide around the room. Zomborgs are little square block sets that slowly walk in a constant straight line to you with no stop, making combat hard. Nobody really has an attack animation, you just hear a small noise and a heart disappears. And speaking of noise, the music consists of about four different four second samples of chiptune that cycle through a set pattern before starting all over again. Eventually you find shopkeepers, though earning coins comes from killing enemies and is a very slow process. Finding that random guy and having enough coin is a feat all in itself. On my best playthrough, after finding my fishing rod, I waltzed into a room with a miniboss in it, who just ran over and killed me. I get games that tell you to get better so you can overcome the challenge, but when the game regularly kills you within ten seconds to two minutes it really makes it hard to "stay tough."
The game claims touchscreen controls, but they boil down to menu selection, which can't be controlled by the buttons either. In-game you can hit the screen to swing the sword, but it is still reliant on facing, and does not replace the button. I ended up getting frustrated at even this option, as a ten second death didn't let me hit X to continue, but have to move back to touchscreen controls.
For me, NeverEnd has a paper-thin plot you can't even find without searching online, difficult play structure, overly simplistic graphics, and a randomized world that feels like you never get anywhere. The right person might find this mix logical, but I don't feel that it will resonate with the mainstream. At $2.99, it might be a title that you throw a couple bucks at to see what it's about, but I guess I couldn't stay tough enough to find the diamond in the rough.
-Difficult (if that's your thing)
-Quick gameplay sessions
-A "git gud" game that I don't see the ability to progress in.
Thank you to SometimesYou for providing a review code to the site for review.