|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Rebellion Developments|
|Release: TBA 2012|
|Players: 1-4 (Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Adam Dodd
As the video game industry strives to bring blockbuster games that can compete both visually and story-wise with the best that Hollywood has to offer, the focus on giving gamers the type of arcadey, nonsensical games that were prevalent a decade ago has diminished somewhat. Here to fill the growing void is NeverDead, a third-person action game that aims for style over substance. And so far, it's looking pretty great.
If you've seen NeverDead's E3 trailer, you should already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this game. For starters, it's not to be taken seriously; in fact, it aims to stun with its over-the-top action, excessive gore, and deliciously cheesy dialogue. In a way, it shares some resemblances to Devil May Cry; it's about a cocky demon hunter who has supernatural abilities and a fondness for punishing demons while spouting the occasional cheesy one-liner. This isn't likely to be one of those games you want to whip out with family around, unless your grandparents don't mind watching you control your character's severed head as it rolls around on the floor.
Before I get into that, let's start off with a little on the game's story. NeverDead centers around a man named Bryce Boltzmann. He's been cursed with eternal life by the Demon King Astaroth, who also murdered his wife. With nowhere to go, Bryce joins the National Anti-Demon Agency so he can seek revenge through the extermination of every demon that's unfortunate enough to get in his way. He's joined by the sultry Arcadia, who, unlike a troubling number of female leads in video games, can actually hold her own in battle. You probably won't have to worry too much about saving her from stickier situations. However, this doesn't mean she can't die, and if she does, it's game over for Bryce.
One of NeverDead's most intriguing features is Bryce's ability to regenerate wounds and severed limbs. Obviously, this comes in handy should you take too much damage in a particularly tough battle, but it extends beyond that. You can make Bryce's body a tool or a weapon to dispatch the hordes of demons that will be thrown at you over the course of the game. Bryce can take as much damage as he dishes out, and he can use his body in interesting ways. For example, if you need a little extra firepower, you can electrocute yourself, imbuing your bullets with electrical damage. You can also light yourself on fire to brighten up a dark area or use your arm as a sort of makeshift grenade. And as I teased earlier, you can even remove Bryce's head and roll it around on the floor to scout out an area before you enter.
Since this is a third-person shooter, you're going to have an arsenal of weapons to choose from including your sword, pistol, and machine gun. The guns are great for giving yourself a little breathing room or obliterating the environment to your advantage—like firing at the ceiling so it crashes on your foes—and your Butterfly Blade is great for taking out the creatures that don't have any respect for your personal bubble.
Though not much has been unveiled regarding the game's multiplayer, there will be both cooperative and competitive Challenges that pit you and up to three friends against each other or against enemies. The former will force you to think outside the box to be clever with how you use your special abilities to come up with the best uses for your unique regenerative capabilities. The co-op is a little more mysterious, though it's been revealed that the mode will have you working together with other players in special levels against key foes in the game.
As I hinted at earlier, the environments in NeverDead are very destructible, adding to the sense of bedlam that's important in a game like this. This also increases your toolset for taking out the many different enemies you'll come across in the game. Everything from pillars and miscellaneous objects in rooms will be destructible, all the way up to entire buildings, Battlefield 3-style.
NeverDead is taking some risks by trying something this wacky. If it pays off, we'll have another crazy action game to join the pantheon of similar success stories like Devil May Cry and Bulletstorm. However, if it doesn't exactly live up to expectations, the game undoubtedly won't live as long as its protagonist Bryce. But with a colorful personality, excessive violence, light RPG elements, and unique regeneration system, there's a good chance NeverDead will be a much-needed breath of fresh air.
CCC Contributing Writer