Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My review of "The Neverhood"

Neverhood: Boxart

Intro: After playing Final Fantasy Tactics for a while, I thought it would be a good game to review, just for the heck of it...then something occured to me. Rather than giving another first impression, why not review a game I completed? One which was an awsome game, but not a whole lot of people remembered it. One which deserves to be mention whenever anything adventure game related is disscussed. This, my friends, is that game. I present to you, a little slice of heaven called, "The Neverhood" .

Basic premises: The Neverhood was a PC, point and click, adventure game, that was released back in 1996. The project was headed by Doug Tennapel, of Earthworm Jim fame, and some of the teammates were also apart of the Jim team. The developers studio, which is also Neverhood, made a game which involved solving puzzles, exploring a weird enviorment, and some top notch storytelling.
What made the game great wasn't really the puzzle solving, but everything, ranging from the sets, characters, and props, were all made out of clay...five tons of clay.

Neverhood: Pipehouse
Ahh the wonders of The Neverhood.

Gameplay and storyline: The storyline is sort of hard to explain, so let me just lump that part into the gameplay section. You play as Clayman, who if you haven't noticed already, is the weird looking fellow in the screen shots. He wakes up in a nursery, and starts to explore the place. You guide our hero through many wacky locations, and solve some puzzles, which range from being quite easy, to being mind numbingly difficult, or somewhere in between.

The locations in the game are all sculpted marvelously, and you can find a few funny things here and there. There's a place with a talking television, a place where you can make a tiny rat hole into a man sized arc way, and even run into the dreaded weasel. You can pick up items in the game, but there's no inventory, which is okay, because some of items you can use in the same room you got it from, plus it's simple to know which items go to which room.

Some locations will have tapes, along with television screens. You can insert the tape in one television screen, and that tape is linked to all of the television screens in the Neverhood, so you don't have to worry about going back and getting a tape to watch it all in one place. While you can watch them, you won't be able to see the whole message, so collecting all of the tapes is the main objective in the game. The tapes are used to tell a story about how you got in the Neverhood, who made it, and why the creator has been replace with the antagonist.

The sound and music: The music is what also made the game great. To describe it is just doing it injustice. Here's a few songs from other games...

The theme of Final Fantasy

A battle theme for Devil may Cry 3

Now prepare yourself, for klaymans theme

If that wasn't enough, here's one of my favorite themes in the game

I know, both themes sound rediculous, but that's the point. The music is suppost to be a obscure, simple, and a unique piece of art, and it matches the overal theme of the game. Go ahaid, listen to them, and compair it to what we got in todays world of gaming soundtracks. It stands out as being one of them most messed up, and yet catchy soundtracks out there...shame that the actuall soundtrack is rare to find today.

Neverhood: Boxing glove trap
Pow, right in the kisser.

Problems: My only real problems with this game is it's limited access, and difficult puzzles. Some of the puzzles are just down right confussing, and while you do have a hint system via the nusury bathroom, most of the time those won't help. Also, the game is so rare by todays standers, it may not even run on modern systems like Windows XP. If you happen to know a friend who owns the game, borrow it, and try to get it to work.

Neverhood: Mike working
Genious at work

Final thoughts: After there first game, The Neverhood wound up making an all clay, PSX exclusive sequal, that involved platforming, rather than puzzle solving. There was also a PSX, 3D fighting game, before Neverhood shut there doors down.

We've got a whole bunch of tools to use now a days, when it comes to gaming visual, but nothing now a days could compete against the wonders that this clay molded masterpiece holds. True it's difficult at times, but what game isn't? While it's rare to find, the spirit of The Neverhood lives on. Heck, there's a movie that's soon to be in production, curtisy of Doug Tennapel.
A lot of people are still mentioning this game today, and a handful would rather go back to there buster sword wielders, football players, and gun toting super heroes. It's sad, I love anime, shooters, and RPGs, but I also have an intrest for cartoons, western style visuals, and good old fashion comicbooks...but those people are a rarity now a days.

I thought this game was great, and I'll never let go of my copy. I don't incourage you to hunt for the game, especially when it's pretty expensive now a days. If you do manage to find it, play it, complete it, enjoy it, because we'll probably never get another game like it.