NeverDead Preview - The Next Level

Game Profile

Xbox 360
Release date:
Q3/Q4 2011


Immortality isn't everything if it isn't fun.

Preview by Valerie Hilgenfeldt (Email)
June 14th 2011

Showing the house Mega Man built that it hasn't a monopoly on wise-cracking demon hunters, Konami is soon to debut the alpha entry in what could be a new franchise, NeverDead. Their main guy isn't the son of an infamous demon, nor has he been subject to as terrible of a redesign; his name is Bryce, he wears a ragged tan trench coat, and he likely smells as bad as he looks. That, and a vengeful demon lord cursed him with immortality five centuries prior, ensuring he'll live forever - even if he's ripped limb from limb.

NeverDead is already shaping up to be an enjoyable adventure of bullet spraying, bloodletting, and body tossing.

His propensity for self-dismemberment is highlighted in NeverDead, as the gravelly-voiced Bryce can yank his arms off to throw them at foes, and tear his head from his body to toss it over walls and into other areas, among other things. Plenty of accursed foes can't wait to pull him apart, too; they'll sink their jagged, bloodied teeth into his legs and rip them right off, and hurl tremendous chunks of concrete and metal at his body, explosively sending his limbs and head flying in all different directions.

Nikki from NeverDeadWhat doesn't kill him - and nothing does - makes players recollect whatever he's lost. If Bryce has been reduced to a (surprisingly mobile) head, they may roll it back onto his stumpy body. From there, they can force him to slouch and roll like the most athletic of caterpillars, latching onto and magically re-attaching his extremities along the way. If that sounds rough, don't fret; on-screen indicators hint toward where his lost limbs lay, and if you still can't locate them, Bryce can expediently regenerate whatever he's missing, if a foe isn't waiting nearby to rip him up and halt the process.

While surviving the demons too eager to nosh on Bryce's flesh, you may wonder what could possibly add challenge to an immortal's adventure. There are a few things: one, your head can be swallowed (thereby eternally trapping you in a monster's stomach), and two, your companions aren't ever-living. Luckily, in his half-millennium of life, Bryce learned it's best not to team with incompetents, and keeping an eye on his capable comrade, Arcadia, isn't nearly as aggravating as it could be.

Your above-mentioned partner is good with guns, as is Bryce himself. He'll always be able to banish foes with a changing list of guns and swords, though no other weapons will make a showing; you'd think he'd learn how to use a few other things over the years, but he is what he is. Those firearms, along with his gigantic broadsword, won't strictly be used for demon-whacking; for example, to open a short-circuiting gate, Bryce may have to blow open an electrical housing and use a whole lot of lead to override a control panel.

Bryce from NeverDeadThe whole gunslinger part of it goes with the demon hunter territory, but the broadsword-swinging is uncharacteristically awkward at first. It's not assigned to a button the player may mindlessly spam, but must be activated with a press and manually swung to and fro with the right analog stick. This design decision may find a home at the center of "love it or hate it" NeverDead debates, right alongside the lack of significant weapon variety and Bryce's tragic tendency to utter unfunny quips repetitively. Of everything mentioned, the latter jokes may sound par for the demon-hunting course, but they're too awful to charm, and it's a pity Arcadia can't slap duct tape over her partner's mouth to permanently put an end to them.

Whereas the build we spent our hands-on time with at E3 2011 had a cache of bugs, Konami has plenty of time to polish Bryce's limb-lobbing undertaking, and NeverDead is already shaping up to be an enjoyable adventure of bullet spraying, bloodletting, and body tossing. Whether the finalized title is meaty (or gory) enough to entertain from beginning to end remains to be seen, though the demon hunter's unique abilities were well-utilized in what we experienced, giving us hope for the finished product.

If Konami doesn't lose its head beforehand, expect NeverDead to be released nationwide near the last quarter of 2011.

NeverDead screen shot

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