28 people found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 8.0 hrs on record (5.6 hrs at review time)
Posted: Aug 20, 2019 @ 1:41pm
Product received for free

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Have you been eyeing a new monitor or controller for a while, but couldn't find the right excuse to go buy it? Hand your controller over to your significant other and pretty soon your old equipment will have a near-zero health bar in need of a clerical heal or a simple replacement. Best part is that it won't even be your fault.

Never Give Up is a game with a simple concept, you just have to make your way to the exit in every level arranged in sets of progressively increasing difficulty. At its core, it's an arcade-esque and often time-sensitive 2D platforming game with traps in just the right places to make you grind your teeth harder than you ever thought possible before. Anyone who played and enjoyed Super Meat Boy or N++ (NPLUSPLUS) will feel right at home with this game. If those two above-mentioned titles caused you more frustration than you wanted, please just watch someone play and struggle with this game and laugh at their failures instead of causing yourself too much grief.

The mechanics are simple and intuitive, and the controls are responsive. Those are the important aspects of a game like this that really makes or breaks it for the players. The additional witty voice-acting, really well-done and cute artwork, plus the unlockable playable outfits/skins are just nice things to include, but do not really affect the gameplay at all.

The game gives you three options for difficulty, Easy (with in-level checkpoints), Hard (without checkpoints, and the game restarts the sublevel within a set with each death), and Permadeath (for the masochists out there). To be honest, playing on Easy is still rather masochistic. Not to point out to anyone how bad I truly am at this game, I have more than 2000 deaths in under 6 hours of playing so far. I want to see this game through all of the level sets and all of the bosses on Easy, and that'll be enough for me.

There's a really nice user-friendly piece of the game built in, that is the ability to "Give Up" any level set after you have died 10 times playing it. For me, this option inevitably popped up with each level set that I tried. Later on, I went back to replay the very first level set and managed to get that one without dying, but I haven't managed to make it through any others without dying yet. The best part of giving up a particular level set doesn't stop your progress. It allows you to move onto the next one immediately.

The progressive difficulty of each level set makes it reasonable to play and challenge yourself, and then when you feel that you have had enough of that level, you can just move on using the "Give Up" function. This allows you to experience many parts of the game without "beating" everything. I really enjoy this progression in difficulty with a relatively constant level to really hone that familiarity of the level layout for the player. And just as you get complacent in thinking you know what to expect next, there is all of a sudden a perfectly placed trap to require you to do something different.

For the more hardcore gamer, there are 4 challenges associated with each level sets. There are 4 level sets plus a boss for each zone, of which there are 6. After beating each zone's boss, there's a challenge level set that shows up, so you can take it on if you wish that is totally optional. The challenges for each level set are 1. Completing it; 2. Completing within a target time; 3. Collecting a particular item that spawns (almost always in a hidden area); and 4. Completing the level set without dying. Each level set (of the ones I have seen = slightly more than half of the game) has anywhere from 4 to 7 levels. Of course there is a coin to collect in each level that will go towards unlocking outfits that is purely cosmetic in nature. (Boss levels are single levels.)

There is a lot of stuff to do here, and for the serious platforming gamer, there's a bit of replayability and trying to master and to perfect each level/level set. You can also race your best-time ghost through any level set.

There is a boss in each area, and you will find that they are not too difficult once you figure out their patterns and their tells before they attack. But I also wouldn't consider them easy. Nevertheless, I died a lot less in any boss fight so far (half of them) than I have from just getting my way through the actual platforming levels.

If you are curious about what this game looks like, you can look at my first-look gameplay video here in which I managed to fumble my way through the first few level sets and the first boss (with plenty of deaths, of course):


Do the usual platforming thing and get to the exit, over and over again. The bosses are pattern based and reasonable.

I played with a controller, which worked really well. Both the D-Pad and the Left Joystick worked fine in controlling the movement. I definitely recommend using a controller.

Really neat and fun graphics and cartoony style. Really bloody unless you adjust the settings.

Pretty high intensity arcade atmosphere music. My favorite sound bites are the voice-acted death lines. I can understand if you don't like them and turn them off. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. Actually, don't jump in the water, the protagonist really doesn't swim.

As mentioned above, targeted audience primarily are the hardcore 2D action platformer fans. The user-friendly settings and features are more of a crutch for the moderately skilled, but still really intensive player. (Except for there's an infinite jump box you can check in the settings that gives non-platformer players a bit more breathing room as well.)

Base price of $14.99 is right in line with the two other games I mentioned above. So I think it's fair. If you are looking to get 100% in this game, do expect yourself to be hacking at it for a while. I have personally made it through a little more than 1/2 of the level sets in under 6 hours on Easy mode.

+Solid platforming
+Replayable fun for the right players
+Good artwork
+A few user-friendly options to try to appeal to a wider audience range
+Effective and responsive controls
+Unlockables, Challenges, and Achievements to keep the players' attention
+Amusing voice-acted in-game lines
+Interesting boss fights

-I see that some people are having performance issues, though I did not run into them myself
-Potential level of frustration is way through the roof
-I have a friend who doesn't like button-pressure sensitive jumps, so be warned that is the case here.

Never Give Up is clearly inspired by other hardcore time-sensitive action platforming games that have really tight jumps and it does a good job in standing as a solid title among those others within the genre. It's a solid game with enough initial-run content on Easy mode and enough replay value for those of you having a good time and trying to complete those ridiculous challenges. Definitely not a game for everyone, but for what it's trying to be and to do, it does it really well.

Overall 8/10.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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janner66 Aug 21, 2019 @ 2:38am 
Looks nice. Thanks for the review.