As square after square on the eShop scrolled by,
A peculiar game and character caught my eye.
Neversong the title & Peet the character’s name,
I thought to myself “I have got to play this game!”
Its somber tones and light design,
Have captured both my heart and mind.
So take a seat and read with care,
For my Neversong review is written here.
Neversong is a game borne of a Kickstarter funding campaign by developer Thomas Brush. During the campaign, this game was previously known as Once Upon a Coma, and is the spiritual successor of his decade old flash game Coma. It’s worth noting that aside from coding by Serenity Forge’s Erik Coburn, the game was solely made by Thomas Brush at Atmos Games.
While Neversong has been released on other platforms, I do think that it’s at home on Switch. Playing the game in docked and handheld mode were both great experiences. Playing docked allowed me to really soak in the colours and detail of the world. Playing in handheld mode was just as smooth an experience as playing docked, while also enabling me to get through it laying in my bed. The convenience of being able to use Cloud Save to continue my progress from my Switch to my Switch Lite was greatly appreciated. It’s a game that will only take about four hours of your time to get through. Four hours that with its music, sound, design, and charm will make it time well spent. The only slight annoyance I have about the game is when it loads different areas. Once you’re in a region, there are seamless transitions between screens. However, once you leave that region to enter another it can take anywhere between 25 to 33 seconds before you’re loaded in. That being said, there are only six different areas and it didn’t do much to hinder my enjoyment of the game.
I will be careful to avoid spoilers going forward as the experience is not a very long one. Despite its short length, Neversong does a good job at making you feel connected to its world. It’s a sad story of a young boy and his missing girlfriend told to you by dark, eerily animated rhyming cutscenes, oddly placed telephones, and strange ramblings of the children scattered around the different levels.
Neversong is not a difficult game. You start the game off with four hearts, a jump, and Smile. There is combat, but most enemies don’t take more than a few hits to bring down, and even the bosses aren’t too hard once you’ve learned their attack patterns. I managed to get through the entire game only dying five times. The latter three were nearer to the end when I had 9 heart containers and figured I’d just muscle my way through some of the final puzzles.
Progressing through the games platforming puzzles will, at times, be dependent on whether or not you have access to certain items. You unlock these items by playing songs that you learn throughout the game, most of which are through boss confrontations. Some of the platforming also leads to collectibles that are hidden throughout the game. These collectibles provide flavour text for different aspects of the world, and some even allow you to customize how your ‘Peet’ looks.
Neversong uses its endearing design and haunting tone to create an incredible atmosphere that helps to tell the story of the game in addition to the gameplay. The small town and surrounding areas are nearly empty, save for some enemies and children. Its near desolation compounded with the sound of wind blowing, and distant screams do well to make you feel unsettled while playing. Another example of this came from my second death. I was a little freaked out by the weirdness of the first boss that I didn’t register it when it happened, but there’s a sound effect that plays upon your death in the game that makes perfect sense for the context of dying, and even more when matched with the whole story being told once you reach the end.
Though appearances and most of the in game dialogue may say otherwise, Neversong is a very real game. One with light chuckles and a powerful message that I believe should be taken to heart, especially in 2020 where there’s so much uncertainty. It’s a solid platformer that’s definitely earned me at least one more playthrough of Peet’s journey to finish gathering hidden collectibles.
by L. Clarke
**This game was provided by Evolve PR for review**