Review: Neverout

Neverout does not give you a lot to sink your teeth into in anticipation. The first clue you get is the entire plot really, as you begin the game inside a grey cube and it appears you can rotate it while you’re inside.

Quickly you figure out that the rotation leads you to an exit, and through you go… into another cube. This is the premise, not hugely dissimilar to classic indie film ‘The Cube’, where each ‘level’ you navigate leads you to encounter a more challenging puzzle in order to realise your escape.

As you begin, you hear a woman crying. Clearly, there is someone in need of help. The real challenge here however is managing your excitement to solve the mystery and rescue this troubled person, against the irritating controls and repetitive puzzles.

The first ‘oh I see’ moment comes with a block in one room, which as you rotate it falls and starts sliding around. It’s best described as a three-dimensional sliding block puzzle but where you are one of the blocks which are trying to escape, positioning yourself to take advantage of the moving obstacles and avoid getting squished.

Originally designed for VR, it’s obvious that it would be much more at home in a space where you can quickly look all around you. Limited to using the analogue sticks, it is clunky and imprecise, opening yourself up for errors and missteps. Oddly, despite the use of an analogue stick the directional viewing is strictly weighted towards the up/down/left/right planes.

The rotating rooms add a layer of confusion to this. Whilst probably quite effective and disorientating in VR, it’s very disorientating and annoying in non-VR. Figuring out where you were looking as the cube changes and you’re not sure if your viewing angle moved with it constantly grates.

The monotony of Neverout weights heavy. As the title suggests, you quickly will feel like you’re never going to get out, and quickly moves into Nevercare. The rooms look all a similar drab colour and picking up the game to just chip away at a few levels – very possible on the Switch – feels like a haunting ache.

If you are a dedicated puzzle enthusiast then Neverout may be for you, but for most it will come across as just a bit too annoying, especially when there are similar themed alternatives out there that are the benchmark for these sorts of games (Portal and Talos Principle spring to mind).

Reviewed on Switch

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