NeverDead Review

Death in games has lost its edge with time. Not to dust off the old argument that video games today aren’t as terminal as they were twenty years ago, but the debate has merit. Auto-saves, checkpoints, and regenerating health bars quell the crescendo of memorization that was often necessitated by exhaustible stamina or, even worse, continues. We’ve been a bit spoiled as of recent, but the mortality has (mostly) remained. Until NeverDead, that is.

Bryce Boltzmann is a man out of time, his clothes ruined, his face a broken landscape of scars and remorse. 500 years does not do well to a body. As an immortal, Bryce’s submersed loneliness is the product of his curse, the ability to bodily disassemble when struck by enemies. Unexpectedly, our hero will crumble into a disembodied heap, arms and legs strewn, until all that is left is a smirking head belching crummy one-liners as it rolls to collect its missing parts.

“Hope this doesn’t mess up my hair.”


The mechanic seems refreshing at first, but what sounds like stirring concept becomes a reproachable gimmick after the first hour. There’s a sense of incompleteness about the game.

Bryce hunts down garrulous, well-bodied waves of ghouls with his partner Arcadia, but without the consequence of death, there is no need for tactics. Caution is a fool’s errand; strategy is for suckers. NeverDead belabors ham-handedness through Bryce’s unrefined slashes, in his graceless movements, and in his adolescent attitude. And there is no gradation to play; the demons don’t become more powerful or challenging as the game progresses. They don’t even vary; what you start with is what you end with.

Matching this uniformity is the game’s mantra: destroy all things. Even in a scene at Arcadia’s apartment, where Bryce has the options to creepily shower, drink a beer, and use household appliances, I feel strikingly uncomfortable without shooting and slicing everything I can. This charming residence is no place for a demon-hunting immortal.


If capitalized on, NeverDead‘s nuggets of charm could have made the game a delight. Puzzles that can only be solved by self-severing Bryce’s head and tossing it into a vent or a geyser should have had more time to bake. Moments when Bryce is left without a torso are grotesquely amusing, as he continues to fire his guns as only a waddling, smirking head, but they ultimately serve no purpose and lead nowhere. Instead of refining these ideas, NeverDead adds a host of glitches, a myriad of infuriating enemies, and a cast of unapproachable characters to a growing list of underdeveloped items.

Much like the game, Bryce himself is impetuous. His backstory, told through truly gorgeous cutscenes set half a century prior, reveals how he lost his love to the demons he fights, leaving him literally broken and equipped with a filthy, unintelligent perspective. After 500 years of brooding, his petulance has only magnified. It’s difficult to sympathize with the guy. Even Devil May Cry‘s Dante exhibited a little character development now and again. Bryce, however, spends his spare time spouting awful passes at the overly-exploited Arcardia, whose chief roles include ironically complaining about Bryce and needing to be revived in battle.

NeverDead punctuates action, and rarely employs finesse in doing so. Bryce Boltzmann’s story is weighed only by the moments of thrills, and like its leading man, is incomplete.  Its collection of glitches, poor writing, and disconnected characters sully an idea that could have produced something intriguing. Here, there is no need to emphasize timing or practice, just brashness. In taking the idea of death in games down a lively avenue, it has ambition. In execution, it offers little of note.


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Author: Greg Galiffa View all posts by
Greg Galiffa is an Associate Editor at GamerNode. He's also an apologist for the first TMNT film. You can follow him on Twitter @greggaliffa

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