by Anthony Maynard
reviewed on PC
Waking from a coma
Neversong, previously known as Once upon a Coma is an action-adventure RPG with a moving story of loss and hope. Gamers play the role of Peet, a young boy who has just awoken from a coma to find his girlfriend Wren, missing. With little information as to what has happened, Peet sets off to discover the truth. As Peet, players will explore his home, and four other spooky but unique locations from Red Wind Field to the terrifying halls of BlackFork Asylum.
After waking up in BlackFork Asylum, at first glance, things seem pretty normal. It's not until exploring further you'll start to notice things may not be what they seem. A terrifying looking man sporting a big smile and a knife in hand, lurks outside a window looking in, things are seemingly growing out of the floor and ceiling. After emerging from the asylum, you step out into a quiet town with a peaceful feeling, a completely different vibe in comparison to the asylum. Peet is greeted by his friends who don't seem too pleased. After a conversation with one of them, you discover the grownups are also missing, and Peet is to blame.
Time for action
Armed with Wren’s baseball bat, your talking pet bird, and some help from your weird friends - who all have the same soulless black eyes but feature unique characteristics - it's time to take action. Through your adventures, you'll come across many different monsters and locations— all disturbing yet charming in their own way. In these places, await different types of puzzles that attempt to stump the player. Some even require the use of a specific gear item that comes from exploring different areas or completing tasks for your friends. Generally, the puzzles are not all that difficult; however, some require more thinking than others.
Around every corner, there is always something waiting for you. That's where the baseball bat comes in handy. Combat is simple, maybe even slightly too simple, which is my only gripe with Neversong. The simplicity doesn't ruin the game by any means, but in a combat-heavy game, I'd to see more than just smashing one button repeatedly. Things do pick up in difficulty when Peet encounters the handful of bosses throughout the game. Each one equipped with an array of deadly attacks. Learning the boss's fight patterns is key to survival, and finally defeating one leaves you feeling satisfied.
Failing to mention the beautifully illustrated atmospheric settings you'll explore in Neversong would be a shame. Colorful, yet dark and creepy, the landscapes are a character of their own. As you progress through them, you feel the sadness and the dark, unsettling vibes they give off. Although, among all the dark themes, each level has a layer of whimsical fun added to it through the characters. The voice actors do a brilliant job showcasing the characteristics of each person you meet.
The piano-heavy soundtrack beautifully pulls everything together, raising the immersive experience of the game to another level. Soundtracks don't get as much recognition in video games as they deserve. The effects of an excellent musical score go unnoticed by many, in my opinion. They help the players feel the emotions being portrayed during in-game moments. Neversong hits spot on with the soundtrack.
While you're out adventuring, you'll stumble upon breakable objects that, when destroyed, reward you with "cards" (in-game collectibles). These collectibles give you different cosmetic options for Peet or his pet bird. Finding them will net you some different hair options, clothes, headgear, I even found some stylish wings in my play-through. Most, if not all, of the items, are based on other characters in the game. Doing tasks for people may even reward you with a weapon upgrade. Different items that can be found will enable gamers to progress to another level, or a previously unreachable location. One thing of note - while there are some RPG elements sprinkled throughout the journey, Neversong leans more toward the story side of things.
Neversong is an absolute gem. It's apparent that a lot of love and time went into making this game brilliant. The story, gameplay, characters, and soundtrack all come together masterfully to create a dark, unsettling, yet whimsically fun experience. For a game roughly 3-4 hours long, the journey through this atmospheric world was nothing short of impressive. I would strongly recommend this title to everyone.
Immersive soundtrack Emotional story Weird, but fun characters Atmospheric locations
Overly simplistic combat