Genre: 2D, Adventure, Action
System: PC (also on Apple Arcade. Coming soon to Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One)
Developer|Publisher: Atmos Games | Serenity Games
Age Rating: EU 16+ | US Teen
Price: UK £13.49 | EU € 14,99 | AU $22.50 | CA $15.74 | US $14.99
Release Date: 20th May 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to Atmos Games
Sing a Song
Neversong was successfully funded on Kickstarter in early 2018. The game is technically a remake of a 10 year old flash game made by the games creator Thomas Brush called Coma. The story of how Neversong came to being was quite the read. Especially since Mr. Brush almost left game development due to burn out. I’m pleased he managed to recover from this, since Neversong is something quite special.
Rhyme or Reason
Neversong is the story of a boy named Peeter who has fallen into a coma after his friend Wren gets kidnapped. He wakes up into a (sort of) nightmare world where the adults are crazy and everything seems a little eerie. You then set out on a quest to find your best friend Wren. The game occasionally pauses to play a cut scene which is read by a narrator like a creepy nursery rhyme to add insight into Peeters tale. Along the way you will encounter many friends who will point you in the right direction as well as provide some fun dialogue. However, everything is not what it seems and the story takes many twists and turns while you learn more about Peeter, his friends and the truth about Wren.
Dark but Cute
I was quickly drawn into Neversong by the quirky nature of the characters and the games general eerie design. The environments are dark and creepy with fine detail to the level design and backgrounds. It’s amazing what Mr. Brush was able to achieve here with such a small team. You’ll visit cave systems to asylums and I liked the small touches to the environments like the rain and messages written in the backgrounds. The characters are cute little sprites (including the playable character) and they are really brought to life by impressive voice acting. I also loved the little attentions to detail on the character models, like how your character, Peeter’s, eyes appear to blink one after the other, odd but cute. As you move you also seems to do this adorable bouncing animation. It’s hard not to take a instant liking to Neversong.
The soundtrack and sound effects add to the nightmare world.There is a heavy emphasis on piano melodies. In fact you even have to play on the piano to progress the game at points. This is a title where I hope the soundtrack is released post launch to buy. The score is very memorable and builds into something quite epic during the boss fights.
Adults are Crazy
Enemies start out as mostly spider like blobs, but as you progress you come across these insane adults with knives that are quite terrifying. Destroying them causes them to explode as if they’re made of wood, except their head which remains on the level with its crazy expression. Then there’s the boss fights which are monsters in themselves. As you gradually defeat them their models start to degrade revealing sometimes, something more sinister below.
The horror design reminded me of the novel ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman (also a film, go watch it). A creepy aesthetic with childish innocence. There’s no gore or jump scares but it does address some dark themes. It’s not enough to put you off progressing further. This is a hard balance to get right when it comes to horror as its not a genre that suits everyone. Neversong feels like a game anyone can enjoy. In fact the game is so well paced really feel drawn into the mystery. I never really felt a section was dragged out or got boring.
The game is a casual adventure. The controls are solid and I encountered no bugs or glitches during my playthrough. This game feels nicely polished something sadly rare to see in games on launch. As you progress you’ll fight enemies and take on creepy as heck boss fights. Each time you win you gain a new song to play on a piano which will unlock a new item to help you progress to a new area. I was particularly fond of the skateboard that took me back to my youth, which you can choose to use to move around the areas with a stone floor.
You’ll encounter a fair few puzzles but these never felt too taxing. The entire game feels like a nice casual adventure. You can upgrade your health by collecting 100 stars from defeated enemies but I rarely failed and that felt absolutely fine. The whole adventure took me about 4 hours the first time through but there are secrets to find and collectable cards to unlock. When you finish the game you unlock a key which will allow you to view an interesting making of section which is presented in a very clever way. Something you really should just discover for yourself. While short overall it wouldn’t stop me playing through the game again. I could easily see myself enjoying this game every year when I fancy a nice game to casually playthrough.
The Final Tune
I was pleasantly surprised by Neversong. It’s another Kickstarter success story where the developer has made full use of their abilities and talent to create a wonderfully creepy but memorable adventure. The music, the graphics, the gameplay its all just so well polished despite the adventure being short. The game is due to release on Nintendo Switch in the future (as well as other consoles). This adventure moved me and did horror in just the right way. But don’t don’t let that put you off. Neversong is a game not to be missed.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up