I’m not well-versed in the endless-runner genre. Not for lack of interest; I just haven’t had much opportunity to pursue it. So regard the comments that follow as being offered by one who is not adept in the genre but who does do a lot of gaming.
Most of the gameplay in Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield comes from being fast enough to dodge the obstacles thrown in your way. The game also offers an interesting dystopian big-city aesthetic; an intriguing and nicely, simply presented story; and a phenomenal soundtrack by Detroit artist Danime-Sama.
These elements are integral to the appeal of this game. The soundtrack reminds me of a more hip-hop-oriented version of Cowboy Bebop: a nice fusion of beats, vocals, and brassy jazz riffs.
But Never Yield does have some gameplay problems.
For starters, there’s the time-slowing mechanics that kick in as you approach obstacles. Although it helps in the first level, after that it quickly becomes frustrating, making you feel as if the developers are holding your hand instead of allowing you to enjoy the fast-paced experience. Moreover, the timing of some obstacles is inconsistent. The time-slowing often kicks in too early, so that if you hit the button right away, you finish the jump before you have even cleared the obstacle. Even without this glitch, it can be hard to figure out where and when you need to hit the button.
On the upside, the game respawns you fast enough to enable you to get back and learn the quirks of the level without much delay.
My biggest problem with the game comes from what feels like a missed opportunity. I enjoy complex, tricky games, especially when I get to really show my own style. You don’t have much opportunity to show your own style in Never Yield.
Sure, your speed and some of the ways you hop over obstacles can vary. But that’s it. It’s an indie title, and I know that each mechanical twist adds scope creep that makes the life of the developer harder. Even so, the fresh aesthetic, amazing beats, and exciting feel of the game make me wonder why I can’t I perform tricks and exhibit flourishes, a capability that would perfectly fit the game’s vibe.
Even if only by leaping obstacles with pin-point timing, the ability to execute small flourishes as you clear obstacles would add so much to the style, flexibility, and replayability of the game, all without impairing the core mechanics.
As it stands, the simplicity of the gameplay makes it harder to pay attention past the first few levels. Such simplicity is not necessarily a bad thing. In a different mood, I might not mind a simple game where I just need to worry about timing and beating the clock. For some players, though, this aspect may be a dealbreaker.
Nevertheless, these problems are outweighed by the game’s unique aesthetic, world, and music.
I can’t say enough good things about how the game feels. The story and world remind me of some of the more inventive anime I’ve seen (maybe Samurai Champloo meets Akira). The backgrounds and levels are gorgeous, with sleek visuals that accentuate the fast pace of an endless runner. Moreover, there’s always some chaos going on in the background as a result of your escape attempts, a joy to see.
If you like music, Danime-Sama’s soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission. After trying the game, I left my Switch on and just listened to the soundtrack. It is that good. It’s got a nice mix of influences that makes it feel both fresh and familiar: the pleasantly repetitive nature of arcade game music, the beats and groove and lyrics of solid hip-hop, and brassy jazz riffs to breathe life into the whole thing. It’s engaging and calming at once, and a major plus for the game.
Since you should be able to finish Never Yield in under two hours, basic gameplay isn’t really a major problem. Limited mechanics are much easier to live with if you can plow through a story in less time than it takes to watch a movie.
This game is worth a try. A demo is available on Switch, and if you appreciate fresh art and aesthetics, you’ll enjoy the trip.