We’ve all experienced guilt in our lives. That feeling of remorse and responsibility over events that we may or may not have caused. Some of us have moments in our memory, tangible flashes that recall those moments of guilt and grief, when you first realise that your actions had consequences, ones that weren’t always necessarily good. Neversong is a game built on that feeling of consequence, and that loss of innocence.
The backstory for Neversong is initially told through a nursery rhyme, which is revisited throughout the game as a way to advance the narrative.When the protagonist’s best friend, Wren, is kidnapped, you fall into a coma from the sheer shock. Upon waking, you find that a fair amount of time has passed, discovering that the parents and adults of your town left to look for Wren, but never returned. It’s up to you to rescue everyone and save your town.
The artwork in Neversong is undeniably gorgeous, and reminiscent of Tim Burton’s style, with muted, warm tones inviting you into the world, only to shock you with the darker storyline and the creepy main antagonist Dr Smile. This is complimented by the soundtrack, with its mellow and somewhat calming vibes that can lull you into a false sense of security within the narrative.
Throughout the game you meet the other children that were left behind when the adults went in search of Wren. Each has a distinct personality and is voiced, creating a depth to NPC’s that I rarely find within games. I thoroughly enjoyed talking through every option with all of them, not only to ensure I completed the narrative as best as I could, but also to enjoy the childish insults they threw my way. As you can imagine, with the parents all out of town, the children take over, creating a Lord of the Flies-esque atmosphere where chaos reigns.
Throughout this dystopia, you can find a collection of trading ‘Coma Cards’ that can be equipped, giving you elements of other characters or your environment to help you along the game. These can also affect your appearance, adding a certain hairstyle from a character and giving you a trait of theirs, for example. Some of these cards also directly aid you in progressing throughout the world, making it easier to jump from platform to platform, or completely unlocking areas that were previously inaccessible.
The world of Neversong is 2D, and explored through puzzles, platforms, and adjacent rooms, creating what can feel like a maze. Without a map to aid you, it relies on memory for areas that require backtracking. There are four main boss battles, however these are fairly easy to overcome. Most enemies take between two and five hits to defeat, and the all of bosses can easily be defeated within five minutes.
The gameplay greatly remind me of The Legend of Zelda series, especially within the world exploration. Each boss battle leaves you with a song, which once played on the piano in Wren’s house unlocks a new piece of equipment that allows you to explore the next area. This includes a skateboard that allows you to skate and jump between platforms of greater distance, and a pair of magnetic gloves that enable you to swing to higher areas.
Another element greatly reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda is Bird, a sarcastic fairy that accompanies and aids you on your quest. While Bird is certainly useful for the progression of the game, I loved them mostly for their sarcastic nature and commentary, bringing an element of light to this otherwise dark world.
The game is fairly accessible, with controls that are easy to master. This simplicity makes it very easy to progress in the game, however some of the puzzles can be finicky, leaving the possibility to need to repeat the same platforming tasks several times before getting it. Furthermore, the game had moments of the screen lagging on Switch, starting to jump forward every few seconds. This was easily remedied by saving and restarting the game, however was frustrating that I had to it at all, as it interrupted the flow of the gameplay.