Haunting,yet thought provoking.
Neversong is a 2D atmospheric action adventure platformer game developed and published by Serenity Forge. Starting off as 'Once Upon A Coma' by Atmos Games and Thomas Brush,Neversong has us take a deep dive into the mind and imagination of our main character,Peet, as he faces some of the horrors of his own mind.
Peet has gone most of his life feeling alone and if he didn't have a friend in the world, until one day when a girl named Wren pulls him out of his dark place and befriends him. Their friendship blossoms and they form a close bond to one another and all is well, until one day. On one fateful day,poor Wren is kidnapped and snatched right before Peet's eyes, with the shock and trauma from this event,sending him into a Coma. Upon 'awakening', he realizes she is gone and that he must now journey across this new world he has woken up to in order to save her.
Neversong takes us on a very human journey emotionally, one that nearly every one of us can relate to in some shape or form, the feeling of guilt. Have you ever felt like you could've done more but let someone down,had a friend or family member go through hard times but yet you either did nothing,turned the blind eye to it or just felt personally in your heart you didn't do enough and then blame yourself?. This is the emotion that is tackled here in Neversong,with Peet feeling like he has failed Wren and everything that has happened to her or what will eventually happen to her,will be all his fault and of his own doing.
Waking up in a gloomy and darker reality than hes used to, hes treated to sounds of screaming,very weird environments and old abandoned houses,one of which is sporting a single piano in the middle of the room, he knows what this is, it is Wren's house. As you venture off to search all the nearby areas you will come across bratty and annoying kids or evil 'grown ups' that will cross your path, but can they really be trusted? everyone seems like they might have your best interest in mind, but something seems off,they all seem like they're hiding just a little bit of what is going on,and well, they are.
As Peet you will traverse through multiple areas ranging from old looking towns,abandoned buildings,cemetery or underground lairs filled with sights that no kid should have to lay their eyes on. The overall game play feels very similar to other games you've probably played previously,such as Hollow Knight, as far as your battle system goes. Using a trusty baseball bat as your main weapon, you're able to jump and swing,swipe up or down to attack enemies in your way,but be careful because the hit detection isn't always 100% accurate and sometimes hits will not register against enemies,yet it will still register against you. Combat in this game isn't something that really feels ideal in regards to what the true focus of the game is. To me it feels tact on to what is the bigger narrative at play.
Most of the enemies in the game aren't anything to write home about, they're all very basic and die in one or two attacks. The only time combat really felt essential or even like an important aspect of the game was when you encounter a boss fight and these boss fights happen in every new area you encounter. When each boss is beaten, you will be given a song that you will be able to play on the old piano back at Wren's house,which will unlock a new item for you to use for future boss fights and areas you will journey to,similar to the legend of zelda series.,Bosses are actually really well made and can be pretty tricky if you do not pay attention to their attack patterns,but overall,nothing too hard. It's still like I said before though, combat feels like it's not really necessary because of what the game is really trying to tell you.
As you move further through the games story and meet new people, they begin giving you little pieces of the puzzle that help you come to an understanding of just what exactly is going on,who is behind it and what the creepy man known as 'Dr. Smile' really is. Everything in the game has a deeper thought put into it than you as the player originally thought,with lots of metaphoric and psychological meanings that get fed to you in very vague ways throughout your journey to save Wren and ultimately leading to a climax that is both sad and tragic, but helps come to some terms of closure.
The game will last you a good three hours, but in those three hours you will question everything and trust no one. Pay attention to the games environments and art style,which are both beautiful and scary at the same time, for they all hold secrets and hidden meanings to the games overall narrative. It's a pretty casual game compared to other games in this same genre, so do not worry about its difficulty, you will be able to play through it pretty easily without getting bored or frustrated,even if the combat does at times get a bit repetitive when its not a boss battle. Come for the spooky, stay for the feels.
When you stop,sit, and think about what Neversong truly is, its both heartwarming from the perspective of Wren and Peet's relationship and love for each other, but it's also a very sad and tragic tale that dives deep into the emotion of guilt and loss, one that is all too real and one that can hit you in the hardest of feels upon realization of what the game means,upon completing it. If you enjoy psychological games with deeper meanings,regardless of combat, I say give this one a look, it will give you a lot to think about and reflect on.
Neversong is out now on Playstation 4,Xbox One,Switch,Apple Arcade,PC
*Review code provided by Serenity Forge