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Neverhood, The

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Douglas TenNapel & Mark Lorenzen

GAME DEVELOPER:Neverhood Inc., The

GAME PUBLISHER:Dreamworks Interactive

Copyright 1996, Dreamworks Interactive

The Neverhood is one of the most original adventure games ever made, and one of the prime examples of how an ultra-slick style is sometimes enough to carry the game, even though we all know that substance is more important than style. Instead of using cartoons or computer animation, they built the entire set of the game with 2 tons of clay! Quite an achievement in any media, and the result is nothing short of amazing.

The storyline is quite simple. You play the role of Klayman; you wake up in a room, and you have to figure what to do from there. Rooms and puzzles are played from a third person perspective, while moving from one place to another takes form in FMV cut scenes in first person. The game is extremely appealing to all family members, and is a lot of fun to play with.

Unfortunately for all its graphical originality, puzzles in The Neverhood is nowhere near as creative. The most annoying part of the game is the room with the wall that goes on to infinity, the wall of which has the entire “bible” of the klay world (klay universe?) in it. This damned thing spans 38 (yes, thirty-eight) rooms, and believe it or not, I actually spent a few hours reading it all… and it gave me quite a headache. As in The 7th Guest, the puzzles in The Neverhood bear no real relation to the story at hand — they have more in common with bar bets or the logic problems you might find in Games magazine, except much more pointless and repetitive. Many puzzles are just rehashes from other Myst clones: to open a door to a new location, you?ll have to solve a tile-sliding puzzle; to open another door, you?ll have to match musical notes by filling a doorbell with water — if you fail, you?ll have to start over from the beginning until you get it right; to open yet another door, you?ll have to guide a mouse safely through a maze so he can eat a tasty slice of cheese. Fortunately, there are usually hints available if you go to the initial room and down the ladder.

Perhaps due to lackluster puzzles and a high price tag, The Neverhood neither sold well nor won critical acclaim, despite being original and well executed. Two thumbs up for this underdog, but be warned that all the appeal lies in the style here, not so much substance. If you play adventure games for the interesting puzzles and situations, give The Neverhood a miss. If you prefer story-oriented games with a unique style, though, The Neverhood more than fits the bill.



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