Preview – Never Return
Never Return caught my eye straight away; a Dark Souls inspired Roguelite sporting Diablo-style loot and levelling systems. It’s crazy to me that these genres haven’t been mixed before because they seem to be such a great match! Never Return is here to show me if it can be done well!
Right out the gate you’re overwhelmed with a variety of tutorials, equipment, and different ways to level your character. Once you realise from the start to just pick up items with an up arrow on it, it becomes much easier to follow what’s happening, and then over time you can figure out exactly what you are looking for. If you’re easily repulsed by this concept then don’t worry, the game starts out pretty easy, so you have plenty of time to experiment and re-read the tutorials. Every enemy you fight drops loot and you’re constantly opening chests with lots of opportunity to test out all the different equipment you find along the way. Throughout the run you will find different interactions that give your abilities or a reduced death penalty by paying to keep your equipment after death; impressively, there is no shortage of content for a game very early into its development.
Never Return is all about the combat: You have light/heavy attacks, spells, weapon specials, combos, a dodge, and a roll. Combined with a variety of different weapons: swords, long swords, daggers, twin blades, guns, bows, staffs, minions, and shields. I have probably missed some because there is a vast amount of equipment! The combat is a bit on the easy side at the start and I could just run into a crowd of enemies and mash left click, kill them all, and not die. In fact, I usually had full health because the amount of healing I had was ridiculous. While the easy start to the game, in my opinion, makes it a bit grindy and boring, it at least gives you time to experiment with all the different weapons and abilities; there are different difficulties, but you must unlock them.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much extra content Never Return has to offer. I expected it to just be the core game combat and dungeon levels. However, there are missions, bosses, upgrades, environment interactions, different biomes, and a HUGE amount of character upgrades. All of this makes for a cheap, early access game that can be replayed many times, you don’t get that too often.
A strange, albeit maybe not intentional, decision with the gameplay is a strange element regarding biomes; I was in the same biome for a while fighting the same enemies and going into the same 4 rooms repeatedly. I decided I would stop playing for the night and teleported back to the hub world, the next morning I teleported back into the dungeon and the biome had changed. Over time I realised the biome only changes when you teleport home and then back again. I don’t know why it doesn’t happen after a certain number of levels, but I feel like this made the game a lot easier because I was too high a level for a particular biome and by the time I fought the first boss I killed him in about 10 hits.
There are a lot of key questions that people ask about early access games:
Are there a lot of updates? Yes. I actually found it hard to find time to play this game because of the number of updates there were, and not small updates either, the list of changes were quite big.
Is it worth the cost? £10.99/$13.99 isn’t that much for a game anymore but you want to at least make sure you play the game and don’t just stare at it in your Steam library for 2 years. It all really depends on if you want to be along for the ride or not, personally I like to play a game when it’s complete so I’m not having to read pages of patch notes every day, but Never Return definitely has enough content at the moment to be worth the price.
Any bad glitches or save resets? A big issue I’ve had over the years with early access games is save resets. I buy a new game, I stay up all night playing it, only to find my save is gone in the morning! Fortunately, this hasn’t happened with Never Return, which I am very surprised about because usually when equipment is involved, save resets happen a lot. I’ve not come across any big glitches, only dumb AI sometimes, but there is a button that resets your position to get you out of a pinch.
Never Return offers a fun and replayable experience for a cheap price. Whether you want to enjoy each update as it arrives or wait for the full experience then that is up to you, however, I can definitely recommend this game in its current state. The daily updates will probably slow down eventually so they can work on bigger parts of the game, but even then, there is enough variance to keep you playing in between this time.