Neversong review

Neversong is a great feeling Metroidvania which mixes fun gameplay, fantastic music and a gorgeous art style with a pinch of darkness in the storytelling. It’s heartfelt, touching and sometimes sad – but it’s a memorable gaming experience that you should give some of your time to.

Neversong is about a small boy called Peet and he’s trying to find his girlfriend, Wren, who’s been stolen away. Peet and Wren were exploring an old asylum when Wren got kidnapped and Peet fell into a coma when he woke up the world had changed. The adults went looking for Wren and when they didn’t come back then the kids took over. There’s a fairytale style to the game and this is underlined with the way the narrative is delivered through a literal storybook opening and the rhymes of the narrator. The game takes you across various locations underground and overground on the hunt of Wren. The game mixes fun gameplay and the narrative very well keeping you moving through the world always meeting interesting characters. One of my favourites was Preston and his love for science and research, but there are many loveable characters throughout Neversong.

The game deals with hard-hitting story beats and doesn’t shy away from real-life issues. Although the narrative tackles these issues straight on, not pulling any punches, Peet and the array of characters in the game lighten things up keeping the game moving with humour, excellent animation and music. There’s a dark undertone here in the game which reminded me of the Nightmare Before Christmas.

Neversong is a mixture of platforming and Metroidvania-like mechanics. You can collect weapons and items to progress including the trusty bat, which comes in handy dealing with the nasties that roam around the environments. As you make your way through the levels you unlock new abilities, for example, the magnetic boots allowing you to get to new areas of the game. However, unlike other Metroidvania games, there’s no map for reference – but that maybe because it’s a fairly small game and hard to get disorientated. You don’t really need a map as everywhere is very accessible and easy to get to. Along for the ride is your companion Bird, a small creature who acts as your companion giving you story elements and collecting items for you when they are out of reach.

There’s a bunch of collectables in the game like outfits and songs. You can collect cards in the game from characters you meet and emulate their style, which is a nice addition to the game. There are also songs to collect which allow you to unlock new items. Back in Wren’s house, there’s a piano, and you have to go out and collect the songs and head back to the piano and see what they unlock.

Once you get to a new zone there’s normally a puzzle section to unlock a boss battle. These puzzle sections aren’t going to take you too long to figure out, but I found them imaginative and interesting. For example, you have to head down a well in the first area and you learn about Mrs Richardson. The adults have left the town and have been turned into monsters and Mrs Richardson is now a big worm that lives underground and is particularly sensitive to certain smells. It’s your job then to navigate the underground and solve the puzzles and collect the scents to ‘wake up’ Mrs Richardson and then engage in a boss battle. I found the boss battles pretty good fun, albeit not very difficult to get through.

I really appreciated the art style of the game. The characters almost look like they are made of paper. They sit on beautiful backgrounds which are detailed and hide secrets. Peet’s movement in the game is really nice too. He always looks like he’s having fun, almost skipping around the screen. One theme of Serenity Forge’s games I always enjoy is the movement (check out King’s Bird want the perfect demonstration of this). Neversong is no different, it feels great to move around and the controls are very responsive.

The music in the game in juxtaposed to the slightly dark storytelling with upbeat music as you wander around towns, underground and meeting new characters. Whereas the narrative can sway into darker territory the music keeps the game upbeat, light and breezy. I particularly enjoyed the boss battle music, which brought an extra level of tension to the moments. I enjoyed the voice acting in the game also, it added extra emotional weight to the game and gave the characters more life. I remember playing an early build when this was known as Once Upon A Coma, and the final product in Neversong is so much better than that early build and the voice acting combined with the music definitely adds to that.

Overall Neversong is a fun experience mixed with some touching story beats. If you’re a fan of the Metroidvania genre then you should give this one a go, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s not too hard and the game itself isn’t too long, but I enjoyed the time I spent with it.

Developer: Serenity Forge / Atmos Games
Platform: PC, Apple Arcade, Nintendo Switch
Release: 20 May 2020 (Steam), 16th July 2020 (Switch)

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