Konami’s Neverdead was available right there on the floor to play but we had the ability to skip these lines and get hands on with the title right away. Neverdead is a title that has players take the role of Bryce Boltzman a man cursed with immortality. Some people may find immortality a blessing, and Bryce takes advantage of his immortality in more ways than one the demo we played.
We joined Bryce and his human mortal partner Arcadia as they were approaching a building only to come under attack by an enemy that they call Puppies. These puppies were small round creatures with wide mouths that ran along the ground like dogs, but looked nothing like them. Thus we were thrown right into the combat of Neverdead which allows players to either take on enemies at a distance or up close and personal.
Bryce can use two separate guns at once and if standing still can pinpoint his fire on one spot and finish off enemies quickly under a barrage of gunfire, while they can also switch to their “Butterfly Sword” similar to a butterfly knife but much larger. The sword is controlled by locking onto an enemy and swinging the sword in any direction with the use of the right analog stick. While players can choose their own fighting style most of the time, some enemies are immune to gunfire and must be taken on with the sword.
Being immortal has its perks of course, like the fact that having your arms bit off or your leg ripped off are nothing but mere flesh wounds. Too bad the Black Knight couldn’t have that ability huh? Occasionally when Bryce is damaged, or if interacting with something in the environment, he will lose parts of his body. These body parts can be recovered by performing a dodge roll over them and they will automatically attach back on.
Bryce can remove his own limbs if he so chooses. As they said in the game “Puppies like to play fetch” meaning that you can tear off your own arm and toss it over the puppies, making them turn towards it. You can then detonate your unattached limb like it was a grenade and kill the puppies near it. You have the ability to do this with any body part you lose. This means that a full dismemberment can cause devastation to your foes, which in one case helped clear out an entire room of foes thanks to the spread of the limbs.
If you think that exploding your body parts is a bad thing, don’t worry. By pressing the right analog stick Bryce will be able to regrow any body parts that he is missing; this includes his entire body if he is simply a head rolling around on the ground. Now while Bryce is immortal, Arcadia isn’t.
Arcadia was knocked down during a cutscene in the game which introduced the revive mechanic and one of the way that players can lose the game. If they do not revive Arcadia before her picture goes entirely red she will die, causing a Game Over screen to appear. We were assured however that Arcadia’s AI is well made and that she can hold her own, which is true because after the scripted event where she was taken down, she never had to be revived throughout the demo. Reviving Arcadia is a simple affair that only takes one second of standing near her and pressing X.
The other way to lose the game that we were shown was to have your head eaten by a certain enemy. We had to solve a certain puzzle by ripping off Bryce’s head and tossing it in a fountain, forcing it to shoot into a locked building. Here we were introduced to an enemy that can suck in Bryce’s head, causing it to be digested forever, effectively causing a Game Over. Bryce isn’t completely defenseless as a head, as he can build up speed and ram into these smaller enemies and defeat them with a few bashes. Bryce can then regrow his whole body back and return to his immortal state.
Neverdead’s combat is extremely fast paced and responsive. Using the sword was a bit difficult at first as it isn’t able to be swung at every angle that the right analog stick will allow but it is more than effective enough to dispatch your foes. The invulnerability of Bryce is an interesting thing to experience firsthand, especially when the destructible environment is crashing all around you, tearing off your limbs as you grow them back and continue the fight. Neverdead will be released in the Fall of this year for both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. This hands-on was on the Xbox 360 version of the title.