Endless runners are a different breed
While growing in popularity due to the success of early mobile titles like Temple Run, more recent entries like Super Mario Run and Runner 3 have taken the genre into new territory. Gone are the days of reflex gaming that only rewarded those who were fast enough to, well, swipe right (or left). Never Yield from first-time developer Aerial_Knight looks to shake up the genre with an infusion of hip-hop culture and style. Let’s have a deeper look and see just how this one aims to shake up the genre.
Bursting off the screen and out of an unnamed facility Never Yield is a no-frills high-speed endless runner. The smooth animation brings the comic book-esque visuals to life as you, well, run towards freedom. Assuming the role of Wally, players must slide, jump, twist and dash their way towards freedom. The never-ending onslaught of pursuers is broken up by forward-placed obstacles that will require one of your main moves to avoid. That is until the end game turns this on its ear and tests your skills switching screen orientation. The neon-soaked Neo Tokyo-inspired Detroit has never looked so crisp. The minimalistic approach wisely subverts your expectations with its bright colours plastered against muted industrial environments. Our hero, while silent, is able to convey emotion through some solid body language as evident in the cutscenes between the 13 levels.
Audio-wise, Never Yield is a must-buy
Saying this is an exceptional soundtrack does this a disservice. Handcrafted by @DanielWilkins90 the urban soundscapes not only fit but help bring this runner to life. The frenetic beats and wide variety of styles incorporated leave nigh a dull moment. Ranging from traditional hip-hop to bordering on acid Jazz the OST (can be purchased separately) is as much a character in the game as Wally. Rare is the time that the score takes over but with a recent title like Ape Out, we’ve seen an influx of games that star music as much as main characters. The overall sound design is fine but by no fault of its own is overshadowed by the soundtrack.
Control-wise, there is nothing not to love!
Wally autoruns but can be helped along with the help of his dash button mapped to either A while jumping (X) sliding (B) and flip (Y). All of the controls correspond to the d-pad/analogue control as well making this an easy split Joy-Con title. The pickup and play nature will take a level or two to get a proper hold of but before long you will be stringing together runs that would be at home in any free runner movie.
Value-wise, Never Yield is quite the outlier. Endless runners are not a genre that historically grabs players’ attention and brings them back for more. However, with Never Yield, Aerial_Knight has been able to create an experience that you look forward to. A quick playthrough will take around 1.5 – 2hrs but will immediately challenge you to improve your time. Spread amongst three difficulty levels that alter your speed as well as the amount (if any) of slo-mo you can use, this is a speed runner’s dream. Unlocking new outfits while fun for a bit is not enough to keep seasoned gamer’s attention. Thankfully, the previously raved-about soundtrack is there to make every run an experience.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is a sneaky indie that has graced the Nintendo Switch. On the surface, you have another endless runner, however, given a fair chance, the title stands on its own as a unique but more importantly fun title. While the story is open for interpretation it is compelling enough to see the credits roll and line up another run. In terms of first-time developers, we look forward to seeing where Aerial_Knight goes next. The passion and excitement felt during the creative process translate well into a solid gaming experience.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo
Release Date: 19/05/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Music, Platformer, Action
Publisher: Headup Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop