Preview: NeverDead

NeverDead seemed to me a bit like the spiritual successor to Beetlejuice, and I’ve never quite been sure why. Perhaps the main character, Bryce, resonates with that Michael Keaton-like energy – oh, and he can use his limbs as weapons. As we traipsed around the Sega booth and settled down for some hands-on with the frenetic limb-slinging third-person adventure, I quickly realized that the only comparison I could draw between the two pieces of media were that they both prominently featured death in some way, and that some bits were more frustrating than others. Unfortunately, the raucous fun of Beetlejuice wasn’t exactly evident in this demo build of the upcoming Devil May Cry-esque outing.

Charging into combat was the first order of business as Bryce was matched against some odd monsters resembling vicious plants with shields and blades. The Konami rep ran down combat specifics, which were comprised of dual-wielding guns similar to what we’d see with Dante or similar games in the genre. Bryce can never “truly” die, hence the title of the game, and I inquired as to where his health bar or status was, which I received the response that his female escort was who you need to keep an eye on. I queried the Konami rep if this entire game was basically an escort mission, to which he seemed to agree, but didn’t want to ruin the illusion, poor chap.

Oh well. I soldiered on bravely to engage in more combat, which was the bulk of the entire demo. An arm or two ripped off in combat meant I could grow one back, similar to what we saw in the Splatterhouse redux, and eventually in the heat of combat I was reduced to just a head, which meant my ability to defend myself was obviously reduced drastically. As I blazed through advancing enemies via some explosive gun power, I noted the very choppy frame rate and the annoyance of character animations seemingly missing several frames, as if bits and pieces had been cut somehow from the game. I chalked this up to the game being an early build, but nothing indicated the familiar smoothness and cohesiveness you’d find in similar games from the genre.

I reached enemies with shields that needed a different approach: swords. Bryce swung a sword with the greatest of ease onscreen, but using the left trigger and right analog stick was more than a little difficult and even a bit annoying to have to switch from one control scheme to the next simply to change weapons. Rather than using a button to melee, you need to move the right analog stick in short, swift bursts mimicking a real sword, and I certainly didn’t feel that this augmented the battles in any way, in fact making them more tedious than they started.

It’s more than a little disappointing that such an interesting concept feels, at best, so bland and hurriedly put together, but as it’s important to remember these are incomplete releases, so the team has until late 2011 to ensure the final release of NeverDead doesn’t, well, fall to pieces.

Comments are closed.