Neversong is an atmospheric adventure game from developers Atmos Games and Serenity Forge, in which a young boy by the name of Peet is searching for his kidnapped girlfriend, Wren. Set in various mysterious locales, the game is primarily a Metroidvania in design, but one which strikes a nice balance between narrative and gameplay, resulting in an experience that won’t prove to be much of a challenge to many, but remains fun throughout. In terms of its gameplay, it’s remarkably reminiscent of Hollow Knight, but its visual design and story beats set it apart from its contemporaries, delivering a wholly unique experience.
Right from the start, Neversong is forthright with its intended message and tone, advising gamers that the game deals with tough issues in its narrative. We were admittedly concerned that this would set us up for a dark, depressing experience, but while the game is certainly dark in tone (a character called Dr. Smile comes to mind), it’s also crammed with humorous dialogue, strange creatures, and excellent, often uplifting piano music. The cast of characters is particularly enamouring, and are brought to life with some brilliant voiceover work.
The care and attention that went into the sound design has also been extended into the visuals. Paying particular attention to colour and lighting, Neversong is often an incredibly atmospheric experience, and it suits the overall tone very well. Similarly, the creature design – especially the boss characters – is equally mesmerising and disgusting, and many of the monsters frequently reminded us of the work of Guillermo del Toro.
Making your way around the environments is fairly straightforward; as a Metroidvania, Neversong is not quite as overwhelming as others in the genre. You’ll quickly gain a bat with which to defend yourself, and if you’ve played Hollow Knight before, the attack animation for this is nearly identical – which is fine, because it works. You’ll also gain new items as you progress, such as a pair of gauntlets that allow you to grab onto ropes and swing onto ledges.
Unlike other titles in the genre, Neversong doesn’t pay too much focus on unlocking new areas and collecting items, but it uses what little space it has to the fullest extent. This means there’s certainly some backtracking involved, but this never felt particularly exasperating, and there are always a few characters dotted around the environment for you to talk to.
That said, there are a couple of niggles with the game. The enemies you face are never particularly difficult to beat, but controlling Peet is surprisingly twitchy at times, and you’ll often run into a creature by accident, immediately taking away one of your hearts. Additionally, we simply wish the game was a bit longer. The content that’s here really is a joy to experience, and we’re of course conscious that artificially lengthening the game would no doubt diminish its value, but we can’t deny a certain level of disappointment after completing it in just a few short hours.