#306 The Neverhood

Posted: 4th December 2018 by Jeroen in Games
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744th played so far

Genre: Adventure
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1996
Developer: The Neverhood, Inc.
Publisher: Dreamworks Interactive

The Neverhood is another game I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. My first school diary for secondary school came with a demo disc for a bunch of games (it was video game themed) and this was one of the demos that was included. I didn’t know of any other links (Earthworm Jim wasn’t on my radar at the time and I never really got into it afterwards) but the claymation intrigued me and the puzzles were fun. I’ve always wanted to play more of it to see where the story goes and enjoy the animations and in the past few years I’ve held off for this game.

Our Thoughts

Let’s start with the positives (and they outweigh the downsides mostly). The Neverhood is a gorgeous game, the claymation not having aged even if some of the cinematics themselves have started to look a bit rough – in the game itself it looks fine. The world is colourful, a bit wonky but with a decent amount of variation. Just the first few houses are inviting and interesting to explore.

The puzzles are a mixed batch. Unlike the likes of LucasArts games, there’s no dialogue and there’s no inventory to speak off (you have some space, but it’s not as big a part of puzzle solving). Instead, the puzzle are real puzzles, things like getting the levels of pipes right and doing sliding puzzles. There’s some backtracking required, but early on it plays quite well and teaches you some of the stranger mechanisms.

This changes a bit later on. The puzzles doesn’t necessarily get loads more difficult, but instead they get tedious. This starts early on with a optional tape that tells part of the backstory of the world being hidden behind a five minute long corridor, which only barely compares to the required path around a mountain cliff you undertake in this weird scooter – the length sort of obfuscates what goes on, but it still feels like it could be a lot faster. Sadly, it wore me out after a while, as it just wasn’t enjoyable to keep retrying, and left the game alone when the endgame just pushed it too much.

Final Thoughts

I’m really torn on The Neverhood. The world looks lovely and invites exploration, having plenty of treats around. It’s more of a puzzle game than most, but sadly it doesn’t seem to be able to keep them constrained enough. Considering this came after the giants of Myst and Day of the Tentacle (and Loom pulled off the inventory light adventure game better), it feels that should have provided a good base. Still, it’s worth it as its own experiment that maybe pushed further than it should have.