Endless runners have been a great way to pass the time for years, constantly presenting players with challenges but lacking any real story to engage them in the game’s world. Previously, the parkour genre was limited to mobile devices, but Sky Knight’s Never Surrender sets out to break those boundaries. The not-ending runner was shown off at Nintendo’s Indie World showcase last month, promising a whole new experience for runners.
Created and developed by Neil Jones (also known as Aerial_Knight), Never Yieel is a 3D side-scrolling game in which players perform acrobatic maneuvers to stylishly avoid various objects that block their path. While Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is inherently cool, it fails to deliver a more fulfilling and engaging gameplay experience, and ends up falling flat in the long run.
The game follows Wally, a mysterious young man who finds himself fleeing enemies in 90s-style futuristic Detroit and discovers a deep secret that could change the city he knew. Never Yield’s story is presented only through brief cutscenes, without any dialogue lines, which leaves a lot for the player to explain, and it can understandably close as many doors as the player can deduce Content.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield color-codes each of the 4 directional buttons on your controller or keyboard to perform specific actions, allowing for an incredibly simple pick-and-play control scheme. As players run from left to right, they can press “right” to dash through blue windows and over enemies chasing them, “up” to jump higher red obstacles, and down to lower rooftops , press “Down” to slide to purple below enemies and low gaps, then press “Left” to go through yellow openings and mid-height objects.
While typing the wrong action for a specific object will usually result in failure, it’s worth mentioning that some objects can be avoided with multiple inputs. Also, some fairly early or late inputs may be considered a success by the game, and while both cases are forgiving, it does serve rather frustrating purposes, especially when considering the game’s overall lack of challenge.
When starting the game or choosing to start a level, the player can choose Normal, Hard or Insane. Normal Mode gives the player enough time to react due to the deceleration and the warning of what button to press, while Hard Mode gives the player a slightly shorter deceleration and warning, while Insane completely removes the deceleration and warning, adding more obstacles for the player to avoid Of. Getting into the flow of avoiding obstacles is very easy, so players will likely graduate from Normal or Hard mode after a few levels.
However, it sometimes feels like Insane should be the baseline difficulty setting in Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield. While doing stunts to dodge obstacles in a row can be satisfying, the game quickly becomes unbelievably repetitive and somewhat mindless. Not only are new obstacles rarely introduced throughout the game, but once they appear, they appear with increasing frequency throughout the rest of the level, quickly losing their novelty. Many environments are also occasionally recycled, with no real sense of difficulty ramping up. At times, a level at the start of the game seems to be interchangeable with a later one, mostly unnoticed.
Of course, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield does make some much-needed efforts to change things up from time to time, like levels that have players run vertically up buildings, or levels that occasionally reflect their orientation. This is where Never Yield’s gameplay is at its most interesting, as players get to see new perspectives while trying to maintain the same control scheme. It’s hard not to press “right” to swipe while running up a building, or “back” to sprint forward when the perspective is mirrored from right to left.
Aside from Never Yield’s mysterious narrative, there’s nothing really pushing players through the game. The game does give players a timer that ticks throughout the level and throughout the game so they can try to improve each run, but this ends up having no in-game rewards, not even Bragging rights, since online leaderboards are conspicuously absent from the game. Features like power-ups, the ability to chain combos together, and even some kind of time attack mode would also be welcome.
While lacking in substance, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield delivers an incredibly stylish presentation. The low-poly art style incorporates hints of comic book themes for a very unique feel that hasn’t been explored before in the running genre, while fitting perfectly with Never Yield’s overall gritty yet funky vibe. However, while most of the game runs smoothly, the animations in certain cutscenes can feel unnaturally stiff, and the frame rate drops occasionally. Some sudden soundtrack changes between cutscenes and levels can also be jarring, but certainly don’t affect the overall soundtrack.
Never Yield’s soundtrack, composed by Detroit artist Danime-Sama and accompanied by a host of different vocalists, stands out among the rest of 2021’s offerings. Combining an energizing hip-hop beat with a cool jazz band sound, rhythmic guitars, and some peppy vocals, it feels like Wally is running with purpose and really fits with the game’s “never give up” theme. That said, there seems to be little sound design of any kind, as the soundtrack almost completely drowns out all of Never Yield’s sound effects.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield presents a whole new genre of running, but is ultimately held back by repetitive gameplay that doesn’t provide players with any truly engaging challenges. The game has a unique style, an equally compelling narrative, and an amazing soundtrack, but ultimately falls flat when it comes to gameplay.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is now available for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X. Game Rant obtained the PC code for this review.
Game Rant reviewed Aerial_Knight’s Never Yielddon the Neuron 4000D from Origin PC. Origin offers a wide variety of customizable PCs to suit any gamer’s needs. Read more about Neuron here.