Never Gone – What We Think
Never Gone, an Android and iOS game from developer Hippie Game, is a visual spectacle that helps whittle away your time in an engaging, albeit basic way. While the controls and general aesthetic are rehashes of tried and true material, the visual presentation of Never Gone sets it above most other mobile games and enhances the experience beyond what might otherwise be considered drab or iterative.
The setup for Never Gone is nothing new; you play as a seemingly immortal warrior, recently revived from the dead, destined to fight an evil that has awoken to put the world in danger. Honestly, the story is not very gripping, but it doesn’t strive to be anything more than backdrop for “kill lots of guys.”
Never Gone looks like a Castlevania clone, but plays more like an arcade beat-’em-up from the ‘90s like The Simpsons or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cabinets (minus the multiplayer component). The music is horribly ‘90s gothic nu metal as well, and I quickly turned it off as soon as I’d had my fill.
Mobility is Key
At first, I wasn’t drawn to this style of game, as sitting in front of your TV in 2016 seems a little outdated. However, as a mobile game, this genre works surprisingly well. Typically, I only play games on my iPhone as a way to alleviate boredom before a bus arrives or to pass the time during a long drive. Games like Threes! work well for this, as you can play in short five to 10 minute bursts. Never Gone also falls into this category, as clearing out a level can be done fairly quickly and the penalty for failure is nearly non-existent.
To the Right, to the Right…
The game consists of a side-scrolling adventure, where your hero moves to the right and thrashes through however many bad guys are in the way before progressing to the next room of each dungeon, and then to the next dungeon on the world map. To do this, the game turns part of the screen into a sort of controller, which seemed like a misstep at first but doesn’t affect what you can see too much and actually becomes intuitive rather quickly.
There are three buttons and a “joystick” that you use to play the game. There’s A for attack, B for block, and C for jump. Mostly, I used A and right on the joystick at first, but later levels built on what I had been doing at the beginning, and started challenging me with enemies that required blocking and/or jumping to defeat. It’s not the greatest advancement in gaming, but it changed up the gameplay enough to make me develop a strategy for beating each dungeon.
Flair Level: Supreme
While this may not sound like the most thrilling gameplay experience, the visual stimulation of cutting through your enemies makes it feel better than most other button mashers. The framerate is smooth and the flair that explodes when you strike an enemy down is incredibly satisfying. As well, the character designs are all superbly drawn and uniquely crafted, giving each NPC a depth not usually found in games of this ilk.
In between dungeons, you visit the hub world to buy upgrades, potions, and take on side missions that further challenge the basic mechanics of the core game. It is also here that some microtransactions exist, but it doesn’t weigh too heavily on gameplay experience. Overall, the hub serves like one found in a Dark Souls-esque game, without the level-up element.
A Pretty Little Package
While Never Gone challenged my first impressions, I had little to no desire to return to it to collect more loot or try harder missions after beating it. The worst things I can say about Never Gone are that it can get bland and repetitive quite quickly, and its charm wears off after beating it once. That said, it filled a void in my travelling and waiting, and ultimately felt good to play. If I put more time into upgrading equipment or mastering different combat mechanics, the game would surely reward that effort, but doesn’t require you to devote yourself at all possible moments.
Never Gone is available via the App or Google Play Store
Watch the official trailer for Never Gone below: