First published on 8 Feb 2012. Updated on 3 Mar 2014.
NeverDead is destined for eternal limbo in the bargain bin. It’s a game worth buying but only at a reduced price.
It's a pity too. The premise that your demon character Bryce Boltzmann is immortal and can spontaneously regrow a head upon decapitation is enticing, but there’s no denying that developer Konami is guilty of creating a game that's all gore, no guts.
When the going gets tough for Bryce, he just falls apart: in a literal rather than emotional sense. The pile of demonic flesh he leaves behind needs to be picked up, Katamari fashion, by rolling Bryce on the floor and hastily reattaching his limbs before they're eaten and have to be regrown. It's a humorous dynamic that allows you to live on and fight through waves of mobs, balanced with a combo system that rewards you for keeping your limbs in one place during combat.
Being impervious to physical harm has its benefits for reconnaissance too. Bryce's head can be thrown from his body up onto a height so you can examine air vents and rafters. You can solve puzzles using your body to connect live wires, and your decapitated head can be used to carry a charge for remote power. However innovative these are at first, though, these puzzles soon become tired and over-used.
The major letdown of the game is the rhythm of combat and exploration. Formulaic and rigid in its execution, you always know when you're in for another room filled with demon spawn or another puzzle you feel like you've already solved. Combat is a button-mashing affair, presenting the same enemies over and over with the occasional pause to collect yourself (well, your body anyway).
NeverDead ultimately proves not to live up to it's shelf price, but can be recommended for a rainy day. Ironically it's the developers that figured out a way to kill the immortal Bryce: death by lazy game design.