Neversong is finally here on consoles. It is a creepy tale that captivates the player with unnerving moments, powered by an excellent soundtrack and a surreal art style. Join me as I review this amazing game.
Unnerving but Captivating
Neversong is a new 2D action game based on Thomas Bush’s game Coma. It was developed by Atmos Games and published by Serenity Forge. Neversong offers a modern revision of Coma which offers a glimpse into the estranged relationships between adults and their children, children and their neighborhood friends, a boy and his girlfriend, psychosis, and the strangeness that is inherent in all of these.
The artwork in the game is phenomenal, even though bright colors are almost absent in the game entirely. The color schemes are quite somber, and with the right music cues, the theme suddenly becomes creepy and unnerving. The earth tones can also push a relaxed vibe that really creates a great balance between the calm and the surreal moments.
Our protagonist, Peet, is a timid boy who seemingly has a girlfriend in his neighborhood of Redwind by the name of Wren. Wren’s character is much more strong-willed than Peet. She is known as the neighborhood darling and of her mastery of her baseball bat. This has earned her the nickname “Slug”, which is short for “slugger”. They are great companions who have spent so much of their time together, that it seems that Wren’s family has basically given you a place to stay of your own. It seems that you are somewhat estranged from your own parents and Wren is your North Star. Tragedy befalls the duo when a pale man called Dr. Smiles corners the couple one day and kidnaps Wren. Peet is so scared by this frightening creature, who somewhat resembles a toothy Slenderman, that he falls into a coma.
When Peet awakes, he finds himself in Wren’s home. No one is there. Peet discovers that all of the adults in Redwind village have vanished. The kids have inherited the town. The other kids only seem slightly concerned about where the adults have gone. Many of the children think that it is quite comical that you can not remember anything from before your coma. Wren has left plenty of trinkets and clues for you to discover the bond that you share. As you look into Wren’s disappearance you encounter various kids. Some of the kids are very friendly and helpful, while others are asinine or mean. This illustration is very reminiscent of childhood relationships and the turbulent nature between children. Some of the children even blame Peet for Wren’s kidnapping, alluding to his lack of bravery.
If the absence of the adults was not odd enough, the strangeness really begins to set in as your reality becomes questionable. It seems that the monsters that you encounter on your quest to save Wren were actually adults, and not just any adults, but prominent parental figures from Redwind. They possess warped views of their children. Most of the boss fights are fairly straight forward, but they do tend to have a level of oddity that is just strange. For instance, Peet’s first boss encounter is a giant millipede that turns out to be one of the children’s mom. You have been trying to help out this guy and the reunion does not go at all in the way that it should. What at first seems like genuine concern on the part of the mother turns into paranoia and fear for her child. The only rational next step if for her to eat him to keep him safe. Wow. Queue boss fight and then a discovery of one of Wren’s songs.
Dr. Smiles is super creepy. There is something that is just unnerving in his movements and I see elements of a phantasm mixed with the Slenderman or even the Endermen. Dr. Smiles tends to just show up unexpectedly and he usually has Wren with him. He cackles, smiles, and taunts creating these experiences that require the player to question Peet’s reality. Is Peet going mad? Has the coma impacted him somehow? Is Peet trapped in one of his coma nightmares? Or is this all some fantastical journey through the surreal? The longer the game is played, the oddities intensify and really drive the story along. I was literally getting chills and goosebumps from some of these scenes. It was a thrill to be subjected to the paranormal and question Peet’s circumstances and seek answers to Wren’s disappearance.
Follow the Music
The game leans into its namesake and offers many who played Zelda: Ocarina of Time some nostalgic moments. Each boss fight seems to drop a song that Wren wrote. Each song can be played in a similar manner, by pressing the corresponding buttons to the desired note needed on the screen. A running list of discovered songs resides in the pause menu for easy reference. These songs are played on a piano in Wren’s house to open a secret passageway containing a treasure chest for each. This is how you gain most of the game’s equipment for Peet. Items such as Wren’s legendary slugger, magnetic glove, and a skateboard are found this way. These help you along your quest to find Wren.
Welcome to Hell
Redwind is a literal hell. It is Peet’s hell and we are all visitors there. What is really quite enjoyable about the whole aspect is how welcoming the game is. The gameplay and combat are very approachable. Almost every creature killed drops a heart. The game uses a heart system for health and each boss battle grants another heart. The puzzles are not overly complicated, but they do provide a sense of accomplishment. It seems that most of the Xbox achievements are geared around time completions and speed runs. Atmos Games really seems to want players to experience the game first and foremost, then come back and master it later. I believe that the game threads the needle well between being approachable and not overly complicated.
Even the start of the game is very welcoming. The narration and the voice acting is top-notch. The children that you meet at the beginning of the are superbly written. It can be hard for adults to connect with children. It is even harder to capture them in the artistic and illustrative ways that Neversong has and utilize them in a story that is meant for older teens and adults. The game requires you to either decide to connect with these characters or dislike them. Later, the game asks you to reassess your thoughts on some of these characters in some sort of paranormal context. For example, some of your childhood friends may appear to be decrepit and troubled adults while Peet is still a child. All the while, adults could show up as crazed murders or monsters altogether.
I have enjoyed my time with this game. Each of my sessions playing this has captivated me. I will be honest, I was not expecting to enjoy the game as much as I have. I typically do not play games that have dark themes or horror games. However, this game has been a real joy. I enjoy how it draws me in to evaluate the relationships between the children and adults, Peet and Wren, and then try to decipher what the true reality is. I am looking forward to future playthroughs. Even my wife has enjoyed watching me review this game. Several times she has asked for me to stop working on my stream channel and, “come to bed and play Neversong”. That speaks to the quality of the storytelling that the game possesses.
- Excellent Story Telling
- Superb 2D Artwork
- Memorable world development
- Top-Notch Voice Acting
- Likable Characters
- Enjoyable boss fights
- Grotesque monster creations
- Approachable gameplay
- Intelligent exploration of paranoia and evil
- Well composed soundtrack
- Simplistic Gameplay
- Some repetition in boss fights
- Short story but top quality
- May be too dark or disturbing for some, despite the early animations