Humpty Dumpty’s long lost brother.
Remember lining dominoes in those wild patterns on the floor? You would add obstacles, like a ramp onto a stack of books, with visions of making some grand masterpiece before toppling over that first domino. But suddently, your elbow accidently bumps a piece which forces you to make a mad dash to stop the whole thing from falling. For me, this would always happen two or three times before I’m in a rage. Unfortunately, this is what it is like playing NeverDead. Except it’s not two or three times. It’s two hundred times….every hour—that is, if you even make it an hour into the game before turning it off.
Let’s not jump the gun here, though. The simplicity of the game makes it easy to understand and accessible. It doesn’t attempt to fool you with complicated trickery. On the flip side, that means there’s no dazzle. It’s simple but without any punch to keep you interested. There are two options: story mode and multiplayer. If you get bored of those you can always tinker around in the option menu—that’s probably the least frustrating thing the game has to offer.
Story mode begins with a slow attempt to give some backstory, or lack thereof, to protagonist Bryce Boltzmann’s heinously never-ending life. Born around the 15th century, Bryce has been walking the face of the earth as a half-human, half-demon mixed breed. The eternal curse was bestowed upon him by the Demon King who stabbed Boltzmann’s eye out and replaced it with a demon eye, all after killing Boltzmann’s wife.
The entire episode still haunts Bryce and it all shows through his character. He continually has flashbacks and remembers the event as much as he would like to forget or at least die. After 500 years of moping around, this man is tired, bored, and ready to kick the bucket. Not going to happen, though, because true to the title, Bryce is never dead.
You might ask: If a character can never die, what’s stopping you from completing the game? Willpower is the answer. Your ability to ignore all of your frustrations and anger and push on despite all disdain and boredom.
The coolest part of the game is being able to dismember Bryce on purpose and use his limbs as demon bait and props to help solve puzzles. The worst part is that Bryce can become dismembered by just about everything, from demons grabbing at his arms, to monsters slicing him in half and, let’s not forget, explosions.
These single-handedly do the only killing in the game… killing any fun you may have. There will be times when you are fighting demons to their death, when out of nowhere, a demon's long-range attack will come soaring your way, blow you up, and send your limbs in all directions, scattering them across the room. From there, you have two options: you can roll around with just your head, as you collect body parts manually, or you can wait until your regeneration meter is filled and automatically heals yourself.
But this is when you’re put to the test, because as soon as Mr. Humpty Dumpty is together again, don't be suprised to find him in pieces once more. On average, every minute you spend fighting will be offset by another minute of rolling around looking for body parts. Don’t get me started about bosses; those are perhaps the longest battles you will ever have in your life.
Rolling around as a head is definitely tedious and can be a rough outing. Sometimes your torso is thrown into a position where your head can't reach and makes it impossible to reattach your noggin'. So you're forced to wait for the regeneration meter to fill. Meanwhile, you must remember to stay away from “Grandbabies”, little demons that will try to suck you up and digest your immortal head. Restart chapter?
Protecting yourself wouldn't be so difficult if it weren’t for the camera angle. It’s supposed to be third-person, but is more like two-and-a-half-person. The camera seems to want a hug as it sits tight on your left shoulder the entire game. Panning around to view obstacles and oncoming foes becomes a challenge in themselves as you have to fight the slow rotation, even when you're aiming your pistols.
But who needs a gun in this game? They have little to no effect anyway. Most of the time Bryce will need to wield his blade for killing demons. The control system is a little funky with the blade, which is designed for swinging in two motions—a load up and a follow-through—just like swinging bats in today’s analog-controlled baseball games.
Multiplayer is a humdrum extension of the main story. Now you can have teams up to four and work together or against each other to complete objectives. A few different characters are available to choose from, but selecting one that isn’t immortal, such as Arcadia Maximille, Bryce’s demon fighting partner, will result in you relying heavily on your immortal teammates, since guns aren’t very effective and mortals can be killed. Being a mortal is like being demon bait.
Konami, I know you’ve been making games for years. We all really enjoyed the arcade games you’ve graced us with through the decades. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will live in our hearts forever. You had X-Men, Dance Dance Revolution, ESPN NFL Primetime, and of course your golden egg, the Metal Gear Solid series. But please, can we say NeverDead never happened, never alive? Chalk this one up, call it a tax write-off, and get back on the horse of awesomeness.