NeverAwake New Game Review 2023

Game Review 

NeverAwake is an amazing twin shooter that you probably haven't heard much buzz about. Released as an Indie game on PC last year, console gamers now get a chance to see what all the fuss is about, and boy does it deliver.  

 Positioned like old boots, the control scheme works perfectly on a Dualsense or Xbox controller, with the twin sticks controlling your player's movement and the flow of bullets from your weapon respectively. Also called multi-directional shooters, it should be noted that the first title in this genre appeared in 1982, and since then the genre has been decorated with a number of excellent titles. After that, NeverAwake is knocking on the door to be a part of that famous group.

  The game sets up a very simple story in the background as an incentive for you to go through these different levels. In your waking life, you control Remy, a little girl shackled to her nightmares by various fears, each of which you face in seven different worlds.

  From vegetables and the dentist to school and beyond, NeverAwake beautifully divides the game into themed worlds, each with its own unique art style and setting. Part of NeverAwake's appeal comes from said art, which uses a mix of hand-drawn animation for monsters, along with psychedelic colors and effects for bullets and attacks. This works really well to break things up, but a simple background with darker shades allows everything in the foreground to stand out.

The goal of the game is quite simple. Each level takes 1-2 minutes to complete and during this time you have to shoot the stream of enemies coming at the screen from different directions. However, you must strategically place your character around the screen to avoid enemy fire.

  Adding to the chaos are collectibles called “souls,” which are not only the in-game currency awarded at the end of levels, but also your key to completing said levels. Once your gauge is 100% complete, the level is complete.

  This approach creates a very interesting strategic dilemma for boss fights, as you don't have to completely defeat an enemy to advance. Each subsequent wave and after enough bullets are hit in said boss, souls are dropped allowing you to get through the final part of the battles. Of course, you can choose to ignore this and defeat the boss normally, which sets up one of the game's more unique hooks - its looping system.

  These aforementioned levels can be replayed over and over again, with a simple level design that allows Rem to return to the starting point after reaching the end. By doing this, you will face tougher enemies until you either collect enough Spirits or die.

  Unlike other Twin-shooter games, everything you do in the game is rewarded. As you progress through time, each death and victory gives you different perks that can help you power up your character and customize them however you want. These various abilities can then be equipped and significantly change the way you play the rest of the game.

  In one level I kept dying multiple times and eventually the game created an extra defense bonus for Rem, allowing me to get hit 4 more times before dying. This is just one example of a system that works in my favor, but one that helps refresh the game enough to keep you playing even if you're constantly losing a level.

  The customization here is surprisingly solid, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Special Attack you acquire and equip Rem. While the Trumpet Gun is indeed an option for you (it actually works like a massive shotgun blast), there are a number of other attacks you can use instead. From the circular blasts to the extra weapons that join your cause, NeverAwake manages to keep the game fresh and unique from start to finish.  

 After completing all the levels, the game even launches its own "Challenge Mode" which comes in the form of extra orbs that help you get photos for your album. These are no mean feat, especially in the later worlds, and will really test your skills and patience.

  From hitting a boss without collecting all the Souls to finding wormholes and hitting them, these should last you 2-3 hours longer than the main game, which will probably take 5-7 hours to complete.

Overall Review 

  If there's one complaint here, it comes from the story. There are repetitive cutscenes at the end of each world, and not much really happens for the first four worlds. While it makes sense, Rem is asleep and needs to wake up, the lack of depth here, combined with his constant diary entries working to provide exposition instead, feels like the crudest part of the experience and could use some polishing.

  Minor stories aside, NeverAwake is a surprisingly great twin shooter. It's a fun, chaotic and beautifully designed game that's worth your time. This indie gem is easy to pick up and hard to put down; Once you start though, you'll be glad you did because this could be one of the best console games of 2023.

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