E3 2011: Neverdead First Look Preview

E3 2011: We learn that sometimes it's a good thing to lose your head in our hands-on first look at Neverdead.


Neverdead is being shown publically for the first time at E3 2011, and we headed along to the Konami booth to get our hands on it in the rotting flesh. The game is set in the current day and puts you in control of Bryce, a demon with a shady past who has been partnered with the still very human Arcadia--both of whom work for NADA, the National Anti-Demon Agency. Our demo was light on story details and focused on shooting, chopping with big swords, and exploding limbs, but we can hear what you're thinking: Why is a demon working for an anti-demon organisation? It seems that Bryce is looking to settle a score, and whether the group knows it or not, he's using his position to bait and fight the big cheese down at the demon factory.

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One of the game's key features is Bryce's disposable body parts. Where any normal man or woman would be concerned with the loss of an arm, leg, or head, Bryce brushes it off (though he'll have to use the other, still-attached arm) and continues on his merry way. Because of this he uses his organs for a variety of extracurricular activities, including using them to bait creatures to kill, throwing them as makeshift explosives, using his own noggin as a counterweight for puzzles, and using them to roll around into smaller and much less accessible areas of the level. Performing a barrel roll over one of our stray limbs reattached it, while we also possessed the ability to regrow our entire body from scratch out of thin air every 10 seconds with a button press.

Our demo began in a courtyard in the shadow of what appeared to be a huge old building that looked like a courthouse or old library from the gigantic stone pillars holding up its sizable roof. With either a pair of Uzis or pistols equipped, we set out, killing groups of Puppies. No, not the adorable kind, but demon dogs with giant gnashing teeth that hopped around looking to turn us into a meal. Because they're not particularly strong, either weapon put them to sleep permanently with only a few rounds. After using our body as a conduit to complete the circuit of a sparking electrical box, we moved into a second area populated with another enemy type called Spoons--we can only guess it's on account of their unique head shape. Spoons were immune to gunfire and forced us to use our butterfly knife, which looked suspiciously like a giant sword. While guns were fired using controller trigger presses, the blade could be swung only by twiddling the right thumbstick. The left trigger locked on to the targets, and while we didn't have much trouble when they remained in front of us, when they moved past us quickly, the camera stayed fixed, strafing with us and forcing us to release and then retarget if they left our field of view.

Since Bryce is already dead, there are really only two ways to fail in Neverdead: either let your human partner be killed in action (you can revive your partner by getting close and tapping the X button) or have your head eaten by a grandbaby--a small ball of veiny flesh with a huge mouth ready to suck your soul down into the pits of somewhere nasty.

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Smashing a fountain, tearing off our own head by pressing up on the D pad, and launching our skull through a nearby window, we made our way into a museum. Dinosaur skeletons lined the room, and a giant blue globe sat in one corner of the space. Environments in Neverdead are highly destructible and let you use falling debris to do damage to enemies. Bryce is a little more cagey, and when you're faced with the potential of being crushed under steel and cement, the game slows down and gives you a generous window to escape before returning to full speed.

Our demo ended with a look at the Inflator, a glowing, shielded enemy type that could be killed only with bullets. These ghouls suck in and then spit out debris at force, so while you may want to litter the place with the garbage of your combat, you may inadvertently be feeding the things you're trying to wipe off the earth.

From our quick first play with Neverdead, we're intrigued by the premise. While this was only a short demo and was largely limited to shooting guns and swinging swords, we are hoping for a bit more combat variety when we see it next. Though it's a bit of an odd mash-up of Stubbs the Zombie and Devil May Cry, we're interested to see how things go from here. Stay tuned for more details soon.

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