Malcolm Owen On November 22, 2006 at 12:23 pm

Selective hearing is a problem in my life. I expect people to say one thing, and it turns out to be something completely different. A recent example would be Justin saying he was sending something for me to review. I heard words like "Roleplaying Game" and "Never…" and got excited that I could be receiving Neverwinter Nights 2 for my perusal. Flash forward many days into the future, and the parcel arrives with my task for the week. It’s Neverend.

Neverend is an RPG. You play a woman. She has hair and clothes, and you have the ability to install and uninstall the game on your PC. Now that the positive stuff is out of the way…

Upon first firing up the game, you’re greeted by a menu that is someone’s attempt at being a fantasy-based GUI. You expect such things in RPGs, except you don’t expect it to look bad. It’s difficult to make a GUI look bad, especially the opening menu. A static image of 2 women (One who looks like she’s got her hair stuck on a branch and also happens to have 7 foot long legs in order to reach the branch and stand on the ground, the other holding a sword and wearing armour that would suggest she’s a fighter, yet the long flowing skirt with roses and stupidly long ribbons suggest otherwise, and bad hair) near a weirdly arched tree branch tanglement, in front of a background with a strange vomit-inducing filter running over it. It also doesn’t hold much hope when the only options under the graphical menu are Dynamic Shadows and Map Details, completely avoiding anything important like changing the resolution.
Of course, changing the resolution wouldn’t matter that much, since the "in-game graphical splendour" feels dated and unimpressive.

Then there’s the gameplay. You’re greeted with an in-game cinematic showing a rowdy party followed by some of said party stealing stuff from the group and also the jewel/pendant from Agavaen’s (The main protagonist. Female. Likes long walks on the beach and talking to people with more vowels than consonants in their names) neck. And the leader of the group is blaming you for it happening. What are you going to do? Yes, you guessed it, try to find out what happened the nights before at the start of an epic quest to get your pendant and other stuff back. Wasn’t too obvious, was it?

The gameplay itself is painful. Starting off with a painful Point and Click section, you have to click on people and talk to them to get the right prompt to trigger something else in order to progress. This was done in the Monkey Island games, except it was done well there and not here.
An early example from the first 10 minutes – You have to go somewhere that sounds suspiciously like the word Mildew, but you want someone to come with you. You ask, they say no. You ask again, this time with a slightly modified question. They say no. This continues until they come along, presumably because they’re fed up of your nagging (if you are not fed up of nagging someone, you really should improve your social skills).
Now, this wouldn’t matter so much, I can easily tolerate MI-esque conversation trees, so long as it’s voiced well. The voices here don’t quite work, partly because they’re pretty rubbish as voiceover artists, partly because their voices don’t quite match the character they are vocalising.

The other major section of the game is a top-down (yet still in 3D) RPG that, quite frankly, sucks. Random encounters with a fairly difficult set of enemies in a combat system that isn’t effective gets old very fast. Other things that get old rapidly include: When the combat starts the fighting takes place in an arena that vaguely looks like the area you’re fighting in with not enough variation in the areas you are currently located, being faced by enemies that range from the simple to the majorly painful "You cannot win right now short of getting hold of a nuke" types, and the feeling that they are trying to take some notes from Final Fantasy for the combat but then forgetting half of them straight away.

Yes, this game is a bad game. Not as bad as Sonic R, because this has an actual game hidden in it somewhere, but it’s still pretty bad. I would think only the die-hard enthusiast types that must play every single RPG ever made might actually want to play this, but even then they would have to ask themselves if they should have bought another RPG. Like Neverwinter Nights 2.


There is a game underneath the annoyance. Somewhere…


Dated and unimpressive.


Somewhat lacking.


Could do with some improvement. And by some I mean a lot. Tons.

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