Neversong is an adventure game with a heavy emphasis on psychological horror. Players take on the role of Peet, a 12-year-old boy who wakes up from a coma to discover all adults have disappeared and his girlfriend is lost. On his search for her, Peet gains plenty of new tools which all introduce new and interesting gameplay mechanics to the player. However, there are plenty of dangers awaiting him, ranging from mildly unsettling to downright horrifying. As Peet, you will have to beat them in order to rescue the girl, uncover secrets behind the creepy antagonist, and save your hometown.
A fascinating narrative
Neversong has a story that is actually refreshing at first. Going into this game, it is easy to assume that you’ll be faced with a dreary, humorless tale. However, players will quickly see that the game is filled with charming characters and some oddly catchy music. The initial impression is quite disarming in a good way.
Peet’s interactions with the colorful cast of Neversong is often entertaining. The player probably won’t find themselves growing attached to these kids, but they’re still good for a laugh or two. They also present a great contrast to the often horrific things happening in the background. Crazed adults, murderous monster parents, and creepy mysteries all await any player who steps into the setting of Redwind Village.
This gives Neversong a distinct atmosphere similar to Stephen King’s IT and Netflix’s Stranger Things. Anyone who enjoys those stories will more than likely be pleased with Neversong’s presentation. This is due in large part to Dr. Smile, the game’s antagonistic monster. This creepy nightmare man is often lurking just out of sight until he makes his presence known. He will definitely set off some alarm bells for anyone with a fear of Pennywise the Clown.
However, a great experience and an intriguing plot are brought down a bit by the ending. The climax of Neversong is unfortunately predictable and lacks any sort of emotional punch. This is exceedingly disappointing, as the game does feel like it is hiding something significant behind its back the entire time. Sadly, it simply never follows through with that expectation.
Survival in Redwind Village
Since Peet is merely a child in a very scary world, survival is necessary to see the story through until the end. Combat in Neversong is far from challenging, but it works well enough. Plus, the game throws a few new gameplay mechanics at the player frequently enough to keep things interesting.
Neversong is far too linear to be referred to as a Metroidvania. However, the player will be returning to locations on occasion with their shiny new toys to unlock new secrets. Each mechanic feels comfortable to play with and everything feels nice and smooth in gameplay.
Beauty in despair
Neversong has a fantastic art style. The drab, muted colors work well for what this game is. Plus, the overall design of the characters, the enemies, and the settings fit the experience perfectly. While the style may be similar to other indie games we’ve seen before, Neversong is still pleasant to look at during any moment of gameplay.
Environments have enough detail for a bit of environmental storytelling. Also, there are some moments that will lead players to notice one small detail hidden in the background of the setting. More often than not, these tiny details will create feelings of unease or discomfort. This leads to the game having a strong impact on the player’s thoughts or concerns for what’s waiting for them just ahead.
Neversong also plays with some “When you see it” scenery elements. This will mostly revolve around Dr. Smile, who occasionally places himself firmly in the background of a location. The game seems to draw the player’s eye to the villain just quickly enough to glimpse the monster before he disappears once more. Every brief spotting of this character is unsettling, yet intriguing. However, seeing a little more of him could have really made the climax a bit more chilling and intense.
The power of music
Neversong starts with a disclaimer referencing loss and sadness. That, coupled with the psychological horror tag, can create a bit of unease when heading into a gaming experience. However, the game quickly greets the player with a cheery little tune for Peet to explore his town to.
This music continued playing as the game introduced the quirky cast of characters, which really gave Neversong a good deal of charm. Honestly, the musical cues, sound effects, and even the voice acting may be the best part of the game. All of these elements help raise this adventure game into an experience worth playing through.
The game does seem to have a special emphasis on music. Music is actually tied directly into the gameplay. Each reward for completing a section of Neversong is a small tune that apparently matters to Peet. I simply wish that the game would explain why this music is important to the characters, and what the story was behind it.
Special attention should also be given to the voice acting. The performances are nothing special when compared to major AAA game titles. However, each actor gives each character a great personality. Each performance carries a weight of nostalgia for ensemble cartoons of yesteryear. It makes interacting with these characters a real joy in a game looking to creep you out.
Neversong is a great adventure game for the price it’s offered at (currently $14.99 on Steam). Players can expect a quick dive into an interesting world. Some of the puzzles found within can be pretty challenging, but the combat is fairly straightforward and easy. The story doesn’t go anywhere new or fresh, but the journey itself is well worth the effort. In the end, this is a great choice for horror fans looking to kill a few hours on a boring day.