At first glance and by its cover, it would be easy to think Konami’s NeverDead is along the same vein or even latest piece of brilliance offered by Suda 51. The graphics in areas are stylized and breathtaking and NeverDead features an interesting and well suited soundtrack, surprisingly composed by the iconic Los Angeles Metal band, Megadeth. NeverDead however, is not a Goichi Suda title but what appears to be a deeply flawed homage or imitation, created by Konami’s Metal Gear director, Shinta Nojiri.
In NeverDead, you play the role of a cursed but immortal and prickly Bryce Boltzmann. He’s smart-mouthed and immature and somehow, over his hundreds of years of life, he is still unable to manage his own life. He looks like a transient, he’s an alcoholic and now he hunts demons for cash and oh yeah, revenge for killing his wife. A side effect of his being cursed with immortality is the “ability” to lose and reattach his limbs.
He’s now employed by a demon hunting agency that operates something like “The Company” in the Heroes TV show with “one of us and one of them.” Who knew there were so many cursed souls wandering around? Bryce’s agency partner is the prickly, Arcadia, dressed in what looks like a stripper’s prep school uniform and it’s your job to keep her safe. Luckily, Arcadia is armed and for the most part keeping her alive isn’t too much work.
For the most part, NeverDead’s basic controls are pretty standard third person action fare. You can jump, roll, aim, shoot, etc. Where it starts to get a little bit weird is switching to your sword. The triangle button toggles the gun and sword. However, once the sword is equipped you must lock onto a target by holding L1 and then move the right stick to swing your sword. It’s almost as if they were anticipating implementing Move support but scrapped it at the last minute.
The real gameplay twist in NeverDead is your ability to blow yourself up and then move your head around independently. Occasionally, you will do this intentionally to solve puzzles and access areas and if this were the only time you used that ability, like Stubbs the Zombie, NeverDead would be much less frustrating. The problem is, Bryce is always falling apart during combat no matter how small or minor his foe.
A good portion of the fighting is rolling around, trying to re-collect your limbs and torso. The added problem of having two separate forms is the drain on the game engine and there are camera and clipping issues that can cause you problems. As a head, the gameplay is an awful lot like Marble Madness. There are physics puzzles to solve and if there are enemies around, they will try to swallow your head, where you get one shot to escape before spending eternity being digested.