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NeverAwake Review for Steam

There is something to be said within the current state of the game industry: the commercialization of repetition, the avant-garde nay-sayers who will die on hills no one cares about, sequels and soul-successors of franchises long lain dormant (usually for good reason), and the vehement, at times foolhardy, pursuit of reinvention. I mean, there’s quite literally a saying, and the direct quote eludes me, but it was along the lines of “if it ain’t broke, why the hell would you want to fix it?!”- at least, something like that. Do not get me wrong though, games are a transcendental artistic medium that is barely skimming the surface of its potential, like a pianist prodigy touching their talent’s ivory teeth, but sometimes, in this Sisyphean endeavor of artistic achievement, some games just forget the most important things about themselves: they’re supposed to be fun. And that is something that NeverAwake nails, but with some unfortunate recoil.

NeverAwake Review for Steam

NeverAwake is a twin stick arcade shooter with an emphasis on linear narrative/level progression. Published by Phoenixx Inc. and developed by Neotro Inc., NeverAwake is simply a fun and enjoyable experience that doesn’t really try to do anything new: much to its benefit, as well as its detriment. While the game is extremely linear and progresses in traditional level-to-level fashion (I swear to God, I can’t remember the last game I had that classic levels- no seriously, when the hell was the last time) with an emphasis on aesthetic changes and combating different bosses, there’s a certain unmatched charm embedded within each new area; this is primarily done through the pretty solid artwork lain out within each new area. It’s no Hollow Knight or Blasphemous, but it is vibrant yet gaunt, mesmerizing yet repelling; it’s a style that I don’t see much of. It can be hard on the eyes at times, especially with the copious amounts of overly-edge concept design, but it truly nails down that almost ephemeral dreamlike horror-state that births monstrosities’ that’ll be forgotten as fast as they were created. It’s amazing, and it really pops when fighting Vege-Scrap and Cute Little Mel; it’s like horror icon MeatCanyon had some unseen influence permeating throughout the game’s development, an invisible hand designing revulsion embodied. Its really freaking cool, and one of the best parts of the game.

NeverAwake also has some pretty solid gameplay with no real deviations from an atypical bullet-hell: you move around a wide space with bullets buffeting the area around you while you try and weave through it, sliding in a blow or two to the enemy hell bent on erasing you from existence. Its classic. Yet there’s a feeling of untapped potential unfortunately wrapped around the game’s set dressing, but it’s good that it relied on its core gameplay loop throughout development. But and I know I sound like a teenager within the midst of pubescence and contradiction, it’s kind of a bad thing as well.

Hear me out, I know I said at the beginning that games tend to forget their core tenants when in development, losing the fun in the process experimentation, but they should always try to find a new dimension to explore, even if isn’t revolutionary. NeverAwake just feels like, at its core, was a vision that only served to explore a singular gameplay style, and tunnel-visioned itself into this niche of unfortunate mediocrity. It’s fun, but it quickly becomes boring. The retro music is poppy, until it becomes annoying. It’s a game that’s fun, just not for long. So, if you’re looking for a 10 plus hour game that’ll keep you going from start to finish, then I don’t think this game is going to be the most apt fit, but it’s definitely one that deserves a try. With that being said, NeverAwake scores a 7.5 out of 10, and should be on the list of anyone looking for a good bullet-hell to run through.

NeverAwake is available for $19.99 for PC via Steam.

Related: Reviews by Fabian Bautista

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Whether it be diving deep into uncharted oceanic depths, wading through knee-deep pools of demon blood, or taking a leisurely walk through a fictional western frontier, I am always eager to explore previously unknown sectors of the creative space, impatiently overturning every stone begging to be flipped over. Dabbling in both speculative and realistic fiction, with a sprinkle of journalistic fanaticism, I enjoy any game that displays narrative magnificence, or if it's just plain fun!