Something I love about indie games is that they frequently try to come up with ideas in either their story or a gameplay mechanic to help set them apart from the rest. Neversong from developer Atmos Games and publisher Serenity Forge is one such game as upon first glance it looks like just another platformer with a very eye-catching art style. What it does to try to separate itself though is mix a thought-provoking story with platforming and puzzles. Does it do enough to warrant being given a look?
Neversong was funded thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign although it was going by the name Once Upon A Coma at that time. The story at play here is that you are in control of Peet who has just awaken from a coma and finds that his girlfriend Wren has been kidnapped by the evil Dr. Smile. Peet finds that the world he has woken up to is dark and twisted and is now full of monsters. Not only that but the only adults remaining all seem to be zombies now. Peet has to set out to save his hometown of Redwind. Over the course of the game you meet other children whose parents are gone or zombies themselves. I liked that each of the characters I met had their own personalities that made them stand out. The story has some dark themes behind it but some of it was a bit predictable to me.
Starting off the game you can’t do much as Peet other than move and jump but as you explore Redwind and the surrounding areas you’ll gradually unlock new moves and weapons to use. Some of these things like a skateboard will let you explore the areas in new ways while new weapons will include things like a baseball bat. The platforming can be quite challenging in this game as timing plays a big part. I felt like the game controlled well but some of the level design was a bit unfair in certain parts and had me trying them over and over. Also, while you will be backtracking at times to newly opened areas this isn’t as deep of a Metroidvania game as something like a Hollow Knight. It also is nowhere near as long as I finished it in a handful of hours.
Another element of this game is the puzzles they are both varied and well thought out. They usually involve some kind of timer like when I had to hit a set of lights to get them all turned on in time. That one is a bit on the easier side but some others require much more delicate timing. Solving them usually rewards you by opening up a new area. There are also some fun collectibles you can hunt down by exploring that when found will give you new cosmetic equipment.
When you run into enemies you’ll essentially just be mashing the attack button to have Peet wail on them with his baseball bat. The enemy variety is good and they all are pretty disturbing looking creatures as you would expect in this world. Defeating enemies can reward you with hearts which you’ll need to have plenty of when you run into the boss battles. Here you have to do much more than just button mash as every boss has a weakness you have to figure out. They each take a number of hits to finally bring down and each hit causes them to drop a musical note. When you finish the boss fight you’ll then play these notes to unlock the next area.
The visuals in Neversong are easily one of the best things about it as every area in the game is both beautiful and unnerving. The game has a great somber piano soundtrack too plus some great sound effect design. The world is full of little sounds here and there that further help make the whole experience feel a bit more unsettling. The trophy list in the game is a small list but a challenging one. There are 12 in total including a Platinum with some of the harder ones being to beat the game under an hour and beat the game without being hit.
Neversong’s art style alone makes me want to recommend it to others to play. Some platforming bits could be better and the game isn’t as deep as some other Metroidvanias but don’t let those things dissuade you. Neversong as a whole is a memorable and unnerving experience that should be played by fans of the genre.
*Neversong is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.