Bryce Boltzmann has it pretty tough. He's over 500 years old and Astaroth, the demon king, cursed him to live for an eternity. This little predicament gives Bryce some unique characteristics, namely the ability to use his dismembered limbs and head as weapons. To get an upper hand (or arm, or leg, or head) on the situation, Bryce absorbs bullets, melee attacks, and whatever else is thrown at him to dismember his limbs, which makes the premise of this game a little different from what we're typically used to in a third-person action game.
Indeed, despite the loss of some appendages, Bryce can attack foes with any limbs, which then dictates the kind of attacks available. For example, his dismembered head rolls around and carries a charge attack that can be quite devastating. Also, if his hands are equipped with firearms, he can still fire those weapons even if they're not actually attached to Bryce's body. Mind you, the shots fired from these guns are obviously far from accurate, but watching his left arm fire in a way that is wildly independent from the rest of his body is quite a treat.
Breaking limbs apart not only gives Bryce interesting combat choices, but it's also a requirement for certain objectives. Bryce may be in an area where the only way to progress further is to go through a ventilation shaft. Of course, if he's too big to fit, he can detach his head and roll around through those tight corridors to reach that next area.
As far as other facets of combat are concerned, there is more than just shooting. NeverDead incorporates melee attacks with Bryce's butterfly blade. When equipped with the blade--rather than relegating the attack to a face button--you use the shoulder buttons to block and the right analog stick for precise control over how Bryce swings the blade. You still swing left and then right to deal a horizontal strike, but longer motions with the right analog stick result in stronger attacks, while quick movements allow for faster but shorter strikes. This control setup does take a bit of time to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, it opens the door to some very interesting fighting situations.
The ability to dismember yourself is a unique idea, and it should be interesting to see how much further this feature goes as the game progresses. There is a slight learning curve associated with controlling a limbless Bryce, but if there is a good way to introduce the player to the nuances of these mechanics, then it shouldn't be an issue. NeverDead arrives on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 at the end of January.