Played it: NeverDead

NeverDead is a game with enormous potential, but which manages to flub pretty much every one of its selling points and remain struggling to escape mediocrity.

The promise of playing as an immortal character who remains in control of his severed body-parts is alluring, but in practice the game is frustrating even on its easiest difficulty setting. You spend too much time gathering together your disparate bits only to lose them again right away, all while menaced by a breed of annoying, endlessly respawning monster that is more than capable of inflicting you with a game over screen.

The setting is an intriguing Japanese fantasy world that has progressed from spiky-haired heroes to sleazy corporate commercialism, but we never find out much about it beyond the fact that getting anywhere requires killing an undisclosed number of demons to banish various force fields.

And the characters are fun and likeable, if archetypal, but used for little more than cheap laughs and obvious melodrama. Anti-hero Bryce in particular is refreshingly depicted as quite the underdog, but the few attempts to capitalise on any sympathy we may have for him fall rather flat.

NeverDead is certainly far from a bad game, but in a way it's almost more disappointing than that: the seed of a cult hit that instead grew into something improbably unremarkable.

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