Endless runners aren't usually my preferred genre of choice, but Aerial_Knight's Never Yield still managed to grab my attention when it was revealed last month. Its trailer showcased a striking cel-shaded visual style, as well as gameplay that looked to employ elements of parkour similar to Mirror's Edge. Disappointingly though, whilst my hopes weren't set extremely high, the game still managed to fall short of my expectations and I couldn't help but feel like it could have benefitted with a bit more time in the oven.
In Never Yield you play as Wally, a man who finds himself on the run as he has uncovered some pretty earth shattering evidence that is linked to his home city. It sounds like a pretty intriguing premise, right? Disappointingly though, there isn't much of a story focus at all here and the only way I was able to find out why I was being chased by drones and men with guns was by reading the game's Steam description. There are cutscenes, but these are just flashy action sequences and there is no dialogue or text present to help advance the plot.
As I touched upon earlier, the game is an endless runner and your goal is simply to make it from one side of the stage to the next by vaulting over all the obstacles within your path. The controls here are really simple to grasp, as they just require you to push the directions on the D-pad to perform different actions. Pressing down enables you to slip under objects, up allows you to jump over them, left is used to perform a spinning sideways jump, and by holding right you can sprint to pass through glass doors and outpace foes pursuing you. Even if you find yourself colliding with an object at high speed, the checkpoint system here is pretty generous and there are no limits on the amount of times that you can respawn.
There are three difficulty settings present and these are normal, hard, and insane. On normal difficulty, the game slows down ahead of obstacles so you have plenty of time to respond, and the objects in front of you light up with a colour corresponding to the right button you need to use. Within the more challenging difficulties, the slow down time is greatly reduced and your response time needs to be much greater when performing actions. Bizarrely, I actually found the normal difficulty to be more challenging than the other two. I found that the game would slow down way too far in advance in normal and every time it did this I would accidentally jump thinking that it was the right time to react.
This proved to be a headache during the first few levels, but the one thing that easily bothered me the most was just the sheer repetition between levels. Some stretches even feel copied and pasted, as you'll find yourself passing the same backgrounds and making your way over the same set of obstacles again and again. The game is also awfully short as it contains roughly 13 levels that can be beat in roughly five minutes each (providing you don't keep dying). Besides trying the game out on a different difficulty, the only reason to return to these stages is to try and beat your time.
Something else that I noticed is that you could just jump your way over many obstacles you were supposed to vault over and with some obstacles like tables, it wasn't too obvious whether you'd just be able to slide yourself underneath. Something that made no sense to me too was that there was a boss encounter in the second episode where you had to dodge rockets and then after this these encounters never surfaced again. Perhaps this could have been down to a time restraint, but I think they could have greatly helped to add variety here.
Never Yield is a pretty shallow experience that even manages to disappoint in a genre that isn't widely known for its quality. The game is awfully short with just 13 brief stages and many of its levels just feature the exact same obstacles and background designs. That said, its action is accessible and easily forgivable and I'm still a fan of its visuals and soundtrack. As I mentioned at the start of this review, I couldn't but feel like the game was rushed out too soon and that it could have resulted in something greater if it received some extra attention.