Rectify Gaming

Review: Neversong


Posted on July 16, 2020 by Christian Bianchi

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  • 8.2/10
    Total Score - 8.2/10
8.2/10

Summary

Atmos Games and Serenity Forge give a ten-year facelift to a wonderful story

Once upon a time, I played games just for the fun of it. I mean, of course, you play the games you play because they’re fun, right? But, there’s always a little more to why you enjoyed certain games and stories. Maybe a story has more of a message than just it’s gameplay or campaign mode.

See, Neversong is the rekindling of a flame that has burned for a nearly a decade. Thomas Brush, the owner and art director of Atmos Games, released their first video game, Coma, back in 2010. This simple but compelling flash game on Newgrounds.com was the basis for the Kickstarter that would eventually be rebranded in late development to the game we see now.

So how has Neversong turned out? Pretty damn well, I’d say. But it’s not a story for the faint of heart. I suppose if it had a larger team behind it, it could have had a larger scope but in its bite-sized form, it tells its story, sends its message and it does it poignantly. And it is bite-sized: Neversong can be played to completion in only a few hours. A few dark, imaginative, and introspective hours.

Dr. Smile is a fantastic antagonist despite how infrequently he appears on your journey. If the game were longer, I think their impact on the player would be more significant.

Story

So let’s start from the beginning: The story begins with your girlfriend, Wren, being kidnapped by the disturbing Dr. Smile, the shock of which puts your protagonist, Peet, into a coma. Upon awakening in a dark, almost flesh-like hallway, you must venture forth to figure out what has happened since you collapsed. You also know you need to rescue Wren from the “doctor’s” clutches before she succumbs to her debilitating epilepsy. All the while, Dr. Smile taunts you with the clear threat of devouring her if you don’t hurry and catch him in time – no pressure.

The art and atmosphere of the game are fantastic and are reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline on a 2D acid trip. (That’s a good thing!)

Visuals

The world you wander is full of very strange and bleak visuals: children running amok without guidance, the adults of Red Wind Village disappearing (or potentially worse) after going to look for Wren, and Burton-esque monsters crawling around. The other children all sound like they’re glad the adults are gone, but there’s something else going on and you know it. The mystery is there, but there’s plenty of symbolism, observable detail, and nuance to the world you’re exploring that fleshes it all out as you play.

The art is phenomenal and in still imagery, it’s inviting you to look closer. In motion, however, it’s a warmly colored and dimly-lit nightmare that only becomes darker as you progress … and it’s beautiful. The music compliments this further with tracks that are equal parts relaxing, ominous and uplifting. I would highly recommend the soundtrack even on its own as it works even independently of the game it breathes life into.

The exploration body dysphoria and other real world issues involving loving yourself are core to Neversong and MUST be commended. Bravo, Atmos Games. Bravo.

Gameplay

I guess I’ve gone on long enough so maybe I should talk about the gameplay already. The controls and feeling of movement are simple enough, with basic 2D platforming and some minor directional controls with your tools. You gain access to new tools like a skateboard for momentum platforming, a baseball bat for attacking and breaking things, and an umbrella to ride the wind occasionally. However, these tools seem like they’re more gated progression than they are mechanics that augment your gameplay. Not a negative, but something that could have been much more.

Combat is incredibly simple with the only minor challenges coming in the form of boss fights. These take advantage of whatever tool you’ve used to navigate their respective dungeon and beat the song you need out of them. Once they’re done, I didn’t find myself lingering on them too much as they, similar to the mechanics, felt like gates to the story progression. Outside of these aspects, the dungeons leading up to the bosses themselves were filled with incredible environments and frightening visuals.

Every time you collect a song, the game moves forward. A shame there weren’t more functionalities to them.

Wrap

The game is fantastic for what it is, but I can’t help feeling that there’s something missing from the game once the story is over. For the price, however, its story and atmosphere absolutely make the game worth experiencing at least one time, because it’s tough to forget how this makes you feel.

Neversong begins with opening a children’s book and once you close the back cover, the message echoes long after.

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My name is Phace, aka. Christian Bianchi and I'm a creative and content writer. I've been passionately following video games since the late '90s and that train isn't derailing.I cover just about everything in the games' industry, but if it gets your heart pumping I almost assuredly have more to say than base impressions.As a writer for Rectify Gaming, I take games and give you the phace to face details you need to know in order to have fun.

About The Author

Christian Bianchi

My name is Phace, aka. Christian Bianchi and I'm a creative and content writer. I've been passionately following video games since the late '90s and that train isn't derailing.

I cover just about everything in the games' industry, but if it gets your heart pumping I almost assuredly have more to say than base impressions.

As a writer for Rectify Gaming, I take games and give you the phace to face details you need to know in order to have fun.