Developed By: Neil Jones "Aerial_Knight" Published By: Headup Games Categories: Runner Release Date: 05.19.21
Aerial Knight’s Never Yield comes from a genre I’m familiar with, but have never been exactly a fan of. This genre is the Runner genre. Automatically move from one direction to the next, dodge everything, repeat. Not that the genre isn’t or can’t be fun, but they’re often bland, boring, or uninspired. Never Yield is different.
Never Yield has style. It has that urban, hip hop feel. A futuristic Tokyo inspired Detroit is the setting and it feels inspired, especially when knowing that Aerial Knight is a Michigan native. There’s something that feels like it comes from a place of love and home, instead of someone who obviously has never been to Detroit making it a backdrop.
The music, by another Detroit native Danime-Sama is fantastic. There aren’t near enough good hiphop soundtracks, let alone indie hiphop, the last one I can think of that really hit the spot was Anarchy Reigns…in 2013. What good is a soundtrack regardless of quality if it doesn’t even fit with the gameplay? You’re always moving, and the music in turn has the vibe of always moving, regardless of the different styles each level and theme have. The closest comparison I want to make with how this game reminds me of as a whole and sends me back to is Jet Set Radio, just without the Y2K inspiration.
Lets discuss the gameplay a bit more indepth. Jump, Slide, Vault, and Dash through anything in your way. This isn’t so much combat orientated, but one about running. Each of your moves is color coordinated making it easier to know what to do. Jump is Red, Slide is Purple, Vault is Yellow, and Dash is Blue. You’re always given a hint on what each is by a highlight over the obstacle and a set of lines in the top right corner of the color in question. Sometimes the game does have a bit of a freestyle feel, it’ll tell you one move you should do, but incentivizes an entirely different one entirely. Maybe jump instead of vaulting, it might be worth your while.
Each obstacle has a slowmo to ease you into what’s about to come up. The higher your difficulty, the less assistance you get. With Normal, there’s a lot of slowmo, Hard, there’s less, and with Insane, slowmo and warnings are removed entirely. I’d recommend playing on Hard your first time. There’s still warnings, but the slowmo doesn’t seem overwhelming on Hard and it makes for a quicker, more fluid playtime. If you fail however, you can always continue. Never give up! Never Yield!
Our lead Wally is taking back what was stolen from him, and everyone wants it back, including a mysterious man who looks like him, in the cutscenes before each level, you see and learn a bit more, uncovering why everything is happening. Without a big spoiler, it was disappointing that after an awesome final stage, what could have been a great final boss or encounter was just a cutscene.
While completing each level unlocks the next, they also unlock a new outfit for each one. A small handful of them are references to fiction, which I giggled once seeing. If you don’t use the “Honk Honk” outfit, I don’t want to be your friend. In addition to this for replay value, you can play the occasional bonus stage if you find a key in a level. They’re contextualized in a videogame, having simple geometric shapes as obstacles, collecting more coins. I usually slip up when they change the camera angle.
I really liked Never Yield, but I’d be lying if I said it was perfect. Load times can be a tad annoying if you’re trying to do a no death run of a stage, which requires you to yield, exit to the main menu, and then start the level again. This can be time consuming and I’d hope a future patch and lessen the load times, or just make a full stage reset option. Hitboxes for obstacles also come off as inconsistent at times, where I either sword I missed or wasn’t hit, but the opposite would happen. In the groove you don’t notice or care too often, but it’s something I noticed.
Outside of those very minor issues, I loved Never Yield. It makes a genre I’m usually not interested in…interesting. It makes me excited for Aerial_Knight’s future projects.