Endless runners are an acquired taste. Either you’re in the mood to see how far you get with one, or you just get tired of the mind-numbingly repetitive gameplay and move on to something with a little more to offer.
Yet Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield follows a different path. Sure, it’s a running game where you basically have to avoid obstacles and, well, pretty much continue on the status quo. However the developers at, well, Aerial_Knight (hence the name?) have loaded it up with such style that this run is actually worth the journey. Not to mention that the soundtrack is the kind of dreamy stuff you hope to hear in an indie game such as this.
The game puts you in the running shoes of Wally, a typical citizen of a futuristic city who discovers a secret that could pretty much change everything. Anyhow the thing is, the authorities that keep control over the city don’t want it getting out, so they’re literally throwing everything in Wally’s way to keep him from exposing them. He’ll have to dash, jump, dodge and slide his way to victory, which is easier said than done.
At first, the gameplay is easy to figure out and perform. Each direction on the analog stick (or D-pad) performs a different function, whether it’s dashing your way through windows or hurling over obstacles like cop cars and pipes. Also it’s great how it adapts to rookie players, not only offering a color-coded system for each obstacle, but also providing slow-down enough to give the player an idea of what to do with the given situation. If you prefer, you can play on a higher difficulty setting and get more up to the speed the developers want you to be at. Your call, of course.
There is a decent amount of variety, including a cool vertical running level that’s fun to watch, along with a neat boss battle that’s not so typical when it comes to boss battles. Otherwise, the game follows a general status quo for its 13 levels. That doesn’t make it bad, though. In fact, the mantra “It’s the journey, not the destination” fits this game to a T.
That’s because of its innovative design. Never Yield looks fantastic, offering a great deal of varied backgrounds and visual quality that really bring the city to life, even if you’re speeding through it at a rapid pace. The animations are excellent as well, particularly as Wally smoothly slides his way out of a car accident, without barely getting a scratch. (Well, almost?)
Also, the soundtrack is outstanding. Featuring a mix of danceable beats and techno grooves, this is an entertaining listen, especially if you’ve got some good headphones on you. You might even be tempted to track down the soundtrack for listening outside of the game, it’s so damn good.
Never Yield could use a little more, though. For the given price, the only thing it has to offer in terms of replay value is higher difficulty. It would’ve been nice to have a level randomizer to keep things interesting, or, at the very least, leaderboards where you could compete against others with combos and tricks. Without that, the run just doesn’t last as long as it should.
Ah, but what a run it is. For fans of the genre – or those of you seeking the next stylish indie game to embrace – Never Yield is a worthwhile journey. Its visuals are spellbinding, and its music is a real treat, something we never expected. The gameplay is what it is for an endless runner, but at least it’s accessible and fun in places, particularly with the twists that come with each level. Here’s hoping that we see more of this journey with a follow-up and some added ingredients that make the run worth continuing.