The iOS store tends to be the wild west of the video game landscape. For every gem like Hearthstone, Ridiculous Fishing, or Infinity Blade. There are three god awful games to ruin the App Store’s reputation. Is 2D beat ‘em up Never Gone a gem or a god awful mess?
The core gameplay of Never Gone is a lot of fun. Whenever you chain together massive combos, dodge or counter at the right time, or just barely survive a boss fight it feels great. The controls are nice and responsive, even when using the touch controls. There is a high skill ceiling, while still being easy to pick up and play, and for those looking for more depth there are RPG mechanics such as leveling, gear crafting, and picking skills.
The problem is, the game requires a lot of grinding. Some bosses will absolutely destroy you the first time you see them. At that point the only option is to go back and grind earlier levels for experience or gear. This can be very tedious at best and mind numbingly boring at worst. The best gear sets in the game take so much grinding that you are forced to pay using the microtransactions to get the gear in any reasonable amount of time. These free to play style microtransactions ruin what could have been a fun interesting progression system.
On the presentation side of things, Never Gone is also a mixed bag. The game has a very cool anime-inspired style. Every time I was in combat the character movements looked fluid and the moves themselves were jaw dropping. The only word I can use to describe the characters is cool. The main character, the townsfolk, the enemies, all of them just look super cool. The biggest flaw with the visuals are the environments. Most of them are bland, gray, messes where you can barely tell the difference between each level. If that wasn’t annoying enough, the framerate drops during more crowded action sequences. It doesn’t make the game unplayable, but it is irritating to have some of the most visually impressive parts of the game slow to a crawl.
The sound is just as much of an assortment of great and mediocre. Music and sound effects are very strong. The music is very good at portraying mood and making the adventure feel epic. While the sound effects go a long way in making the combat feel as brutal as it looks. Voice acting, on the other hand, is some of the worst I’ve heard in a game since the original Playstation era.
Never Gone is a game with a lot of unrealized potential. It has fun combat, cool looking characters, and some great music. It’s a shame that it’s bogged down by grinding, microtransactions, and boring environments.
Final Score: 3/5