Review – Neversong
By adding a pinch of platforming and a dash of metroidvania, Neversong is a heartfelt and fun 2D action-adventure. You play as a boy, Peet, who wakes up from a coma. Quickly, you find out that Peet may have just woken from one nightmare only to find himself in another. All of the village’s grown-ups are missing, as is your childhood sweetheart, Wren.
The concept isn’t a new one; the player wakes up knowing nothing and remembering no one, having to piece past events together. However, from it’s opening moments, you know you are in for a unique experience. The game drops you into a dark Burton-esque children’s storybook. It’s this tone they immediately set with a warning, due to its core themes, that Neversong may be “emotionally upsetting”.
The twisted adult nature of Neversong’s world, story and theme are perfectly countered by its innocent tone and portrayal of Peet and the child inhabitants of your home, Redwind Village. Even how Peet walks throughout the game, almost aloof to how heavy the world can be, interprets this childhood innocence to a tee. The childhood friends you have in the town further cement this essence, making you want to continue the mostly lighthearted banter as far as it will take you.
Thankfully, Peet isn’t alone as he wanders Redwind Village and its surrounding areas. Early on, you come across Bird, who acts as your companion through the rest of the game. Sure, Bird is able to assist you in getting items and carrying them, but for me, Bird mostly acts as your internal voice. Someone you can speak with without having to be directly conversing with any of the other children. This works very well mechanically but also in mirroring everything else going on.
Most of Neversong is Peet interacting with the world and its characters. It beautifully borrows elements and mechanics from other games without ever feeling like it is imitating them. Between Bird and the piano notes you learn, there is more than a couple Ocarina of Time feels. There are some enemies to defeat, but none of them are overly difficult. Simply learn their timing and strike when you see an opening. Otherwise, Neversong is about platforming through levels, using whatever newest learned ability to aid you. Returning to previous unreachable areas to unlock new areas. Boss battles can be tricky to get the cadence of down, but none are overly difficult.
Neversong is only about three hours long and it is done in stages, so it is very easy to walk away from if you enjoy a break after a chapter or two. Using that same analogy, the game is comprised of four chapters, and each chapter ends with a fight against a boss. Do that and you return back to Wren’s home. Defeating each boss reveals a new set of notes to play out and unlock a new object, allowing you to get to the next chapter and next boss, and ultimately closer to what happened to Wren.
With the storybook rhymes and the focus on music, you can guess that Neversong takes great care in its soundtrack and it is as simple and beautiful as the rest of the game. It is always difficult for me to gauge a game’s soundtrack, especially a small indie title, but Neversong clearly hit each note and chord.
Load times can become a bit of a chore. None of the loading is bad when taken individually, but there are a couple times you need to go from A to B, back to A, to B again, then check out C, go back to B, beat B, head to A.. each time resulting in a 20-30 second load screen. I also found that, as much as I enjoyed the characters of Neversong, only one of them was integrated in the game and its main gameplay. The other characters, although endearing, could have been mixed and matched in any given order, and I wouldn’t have complained.
Neversong is an indie in every sense of the word, and in the best sense of the word. It has the serious charm of games that have come before it, yet finds a way to not only stand on its own, but to stand side by side with the Braids, the Limbos, and the Celestes of the world.
Beautiful storybook simplicity that combines innocence with eeriness.
2D metroidvania platformer that borrows the best parts of classic titles while staying it’s own game.
Gorgeous soundtrack that functions as a mechanic, setting, and personality.
Fun Factor: 9.0
Fun characters and beats keep you invested in each turn of the page of this storybook classic.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Neversong is available now on Switch, PC, Xbox One and PS4.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Neversong was provided by the publisher.